Ottolenghi’s amazing mushroom and herb polenta

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main meal.  Best served with a simple green salad (I like rocket) with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 350g mixed mushrooms, very large ones halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp truffle oil
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 80g polenta (instant)
  • 80g Parmesan, grated
  • 30g butter
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chervil
  • 100g Taleggio (rind removed), cut into 1cm slices
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

 

Method

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a large heavy based frying pan. Add half of the mushrooms to the hot oil and fry them for a few minutes – until you can see golden-brown patches on their surface. Don’t move the mushrooms around too much – resist the urge to stir them and instead just give the pan a shake every now and then.
  2. Remove the cooked mushrooms from the pan and repeat the process with the rest of the mushrooms and oil.
  3. Turn off the heat, put all the mushrooms back to the pan and add the garlic, tarragon, thyme, truffle oil and salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm.
  4. Bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan and then slowly trickle in the polenta and give it a stir. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting on your stove and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The polenta will be ready when it leaves the sides of the pan but is still runny. It should have a porridge-like consistency.  Given that my version uses instant polenta this shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.  Note that if using traditional polenta this stage can take up to 50 minutes.
  5. Preheat your grill to high. When the polenta is ready, off the heat stir in the Parmesan, butter, rosemary and half the chervil. Season with more salt and pepper.
  6. Spread the polenta over a heatproof dish and place the Taleggio slices on top, evenly spaced.
  7. Place the dish under the grill until the cheese bubbles. Remove, top with the mushrooms and their juices, and return to the grill for a minute or two to warm up. Serve hot, sprinkled with the remaining chervil.

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