Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Plenty: Mushroom and Herb Polenta

I am not a vegetarian.  No way, no how.  I like meat too much.  If I stop eating it for a period of time, I start craving it.  So the vegetarian or vegan thing is probably never going to happen for me.  And I'm okay with that.  But this book by Yotam Ottolenghi has really made me question things.  If I could eat like this, every day, I might just be okay with not eating meat.  I mean, this is vegetarian food that actually tastes good.  And it doesn't feel like you're eating the side dish with no main course.  If I ever did go vegetarian, I think this book would be my Bible.  No joke.

Note: I think Taleggio smells and tastes like dirty gym socks, so I used fontina.  I also used chicken broth instead of vegetable stock because I like the way it tastes.  For the mixed mushrooms, I used cinnamon caps, hen of the woods, and cremini, but go for whatever looks good.

Mushroom and Herb Polenta
From Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups mixed mushrooms, very large ones halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon truffle oil
Salt and black pepper
2¼ cups vegetable stock
½ cup polenta (instant or traditional)
3 ounces Parmesan, grated
2½ tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped chervil
4 ounces Taleggio (rind removed), cut into ⅜-inch slices

Heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add half of the mushrooms and fry for a few minutes, or until just cooked; try not to move them much so you get golden brown patches on their surface. Remove from the pan, and repeat with the rest of the mushrooms and oil. Off the heat, return all the mushrooms to the pan and add the garlic, tarragon, thyme, truffle oil, and some salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan. Slowly stir in the polenta, then reduce the heat to the minimum and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The polenta is ready when it leaves the sides of the pan but is still runny. If you are using instant polenta this shouldn't take more than 5 minutes; with traditional polenta it could take up to 50 minutes (if it seems to dry out, add some more stock or water but just enough to keep it at a thick porridge consistency).

Preheat the broiler. When the polenta is ready, stir in the Parmesan, butter, rosemary, and half the chervil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the polenta over a heatproof dish and top with the Taleggio. Place under the broiler until the cheese bubbles. Remove, top with the mushrooms and their juices, and return to the broiler for a minute to warm.

Makes 2 servings

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