ITALIANATE MUSHROOMS AND POLENTA
Polenta can be tricky to get right, and I admit I've had a few disasters with it in the past. The trick is to keep stirring it, and to add lots of butter and seasoning. Fluffy, or "wet", polenta, should have a consistency similar to mashed potato. Set polenta can be sliced and deep-fried. In the Trentino region of Italy, it is traditional to serve the polenta with a slab of Taleggio cheese melting over it, and then pile the stew on top.
I use big, flat field mushrooms, or Portobello mushrooms, for this dish. They have a meaty texture and lots of flavour, but be warned: mushrooms have a habit of shrinking when cooked, so it's worth over-estimating the quantities. Any left over can be fried for breakfast with scrambled eggs! I also bear in mind a quote from the film 'Julie, Julia' - "Don't crowd the mushrooms!". Mushrooms cook better if allowed plenty of room - hence, "mush-room". Ha ha de ha ha.
This simple supper dish needs nothing more than a green salad and a good bottle of wine (Valpolicella, tonight, I think).
About 6 big flat field mushrooms, halved and then sliced
2 large cloves of garlic, cut into slivers
approx 50g of butter
Truffle oil - optional
Salt & pepper
Lots of freshly grated Parmeson
A couple of slabs of Taleggio cheese, or similar (optional)
Heat the butter in a large frying pan and add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook until just tender, season with salt, and set aside. Just before serving, heat again and add the cream to make a sauce. Add a dash of truffle oil to really enhance the mushroom flavour.
Cook the polenta according to the instructions on the packet. Spoon onto plates, lay a slice of Taleggio on top, and finish off with the mushroom mixture. Sprinkle over plenty of fresh Parmesan. Bon appetito!