Monday, May 18, 2020

Country Comforts - Polenta and Balsamic Mushrooms

With time on my hands, I've been going through bookshelves and throwing out what needs to be thrown out. One of the things I discovered were some old Bon Appetit magazines going back as far as 1991! Most of them are newer, with quite a few from around late 1999 and early 2000 when I was distracted by grief and probably never even read them. Perhaps that's why I saved them. Things have changed over the decades. Many of the recipes from the early 90s are very rich, with lots of sauces, including many with a lot of whipping cream. These were served with desserts with lots of chocolate and whipping cream. I'm glad that we have not gotten rid of the chocolate but moved a bit past so much whipping cream.

One of the recipes sounded really great, especially because we had a lot of mushrooms. Sweetie and I have been blessed with wonderful neighbors who ask what they can get us when they shop. That led to a double amount of fresh mushrooms through our miscommunication. Fortunately, we both love mushrooms! In making the Cottage Loaf, I had re-discovered the polenta in the extra fridge, so I knew that I could make the polenta.

In the recipe, from the October, 1991 Bon Appetit issue titled Country Comforts on the cover, the polenta was baked. It had a lot more dairy, including full fat sour cream (I substituted low fat yogurt and reduced the amount), lots of Parmesan cheese (I had none and Sweetie had a reduced amount) and lots of butter (again replaced with non-dairy and reduced in amount). I made it stove-top so that the mushrooms could take up the oven and it was just perfect. I re-wrote the direction for stove-top. If you make this with water, skip the yogurt and use plant-based butter and no Parmesan, it is a vegan meal.

The polenta is OK just a little salty since the mushrooms get a bit sweet with the roasting and the balsamic. It's a great combination! If at all possible, use fresh herbs. It makes a difference.

The recipe was found in an article on the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, CA, a pioneering restaurant, founded in 1989, which closed sometime in 2015. Who knows what magazine gems I'll find next.

Do try this delicious dish yourself. Except for prepping the mushrooms and stirring the polenta, it doesn't take much effort and the results are worthy of company...once we can have joint dinners again. In the meantime, make it for are worth it!

Low-Dairy Polenta with  Thyme and Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms
A variation of a recipe from the Lark Creek Inn, Larkspur, CA

1 3/4 cups water or chicken brotIused brot)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plain yogurt
4 tablespoons non-dairy butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (optional)
fresh thyme for garnish

Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms
6 garlic cloves, minced or thinly sliced (I used minced because that's what I had)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
3 fresh rosemary sprigs or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
3 fresh thyme sprigs, or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
4 cups large fresh mushrooms, cleaned, dried, and quartered

Polenta -  Bring the water or broth and minced garlic to a boil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Pot will need a tight-fitting lid.

Gradually stir polenta into boiling liquid. Reduce heat to medium and cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir in. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook another 15-20 minutes , stirring frequently, until polenta is thickened and grains are tender (take a taste). Remove from heat and stir in yogurt and butter. If using, stir in Parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper as needed, to taste.

Spoon polenta onto plates or into shallow bowls. Garnish with thyme. Top with Roasted Balsamic Mushrooms. Serve at once.

Mushrooms - Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with foil.

In a large bowl combine garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs. Add mushrooms and toss to coat. Season lightly with pepper. Toss again.

Arrange in single layer on prepared baking sheets. Roast until mushrooms are tender and slightly crisp on edges, 20 minutes or so. Serve over cooked Polenta.

1 comment :

  1. This looks like it was delicious - and I'm excited, because we have a mushroom guy at the Farmer's Market. I'm allergic to balsamic, though - or, rather, the sulfites in it, but I suspect I could figure out something else...