Creamy Herbed Mushroom Polenta
Real honesty moment here: I pretty much always need or at least prefer comfort food, warm carbs and cheese. But this weekend has been tough starting with me trying to do a good deed and put lights on my parents’ 10 ft. Christmas tree. I spent over an hour climbing back and forth between two ladders, only to put the angel on top, plug her in, and watch the whole tree go dead. In all fairness I wouldn’t want a tree up my dress either but COME ON CHICK. So the tree is still not lighting up and that debacle happened Thursday. It’s Sunday.
Besides that, the weather has just been crappy which means I’m inside with 4 cabin fever stricken dogs. Yes you read that right, 4 dogs. I’m actually living in a kennel. There’s a cat too. So here is my, “Sorry you had a crappy, cold, weekend Creamy Herbed Mushroom Polenta.”
- You can use any mild nutty cheese here. I chose Manchego because it’s gentle and doesn’t compete for the limelight next to the mushrooms and herbs. If you want something stronger, I recommend gruyere, jarlesburg, emmental, you get the idea. Regular parmesan would be lovely as well.
- Polenta is a bitch to find in the grocery store. Use grits if you want but never instant grits.
- Buy the mushroom broth. Cut corners, don’t make your own.
- Chiffonade: It’s a fancy chef term for ribbons. Everyone has lived out their hippie life at some point, probably in college or the late 60s/70s, I don’t judge. But you all know what I’m talking about when I say you roll you herbs like this.
- If you’re looking at the sage leaf for example, you want it vertical. Roll from top to bottom as tight as you can. Then you need to slice it thinly like you would a hotdog for your kids. I don’t know why that is the best example I can give but I know you know what I mean. From one end to the other. You should end up with little herb ribbons.
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 quart of mushroom broth, kept warm
- 2 leaves of fresh sage, fine chop
- 4 chives, fine chop
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 cups oyster mushrooms
- 2 tbsp rosemary olive oil (or regular olive oil and just put a baby pinch of rosemary in)
- 1 leaf of fresh sage, chiffonade for garnish
- 2 chives, fine chop for garnish
- 1-2 cups of finely shredded Manchego
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 dollop of cream cheese
- 3 tbsp salted butter, cubed
- salt and pepper to taste
- chef knife
- cutting board
- pot for broth
- pot for polenta
- sautee pan
- measuring cups and spoons
- micro planer or fine cheese grater
- Mise en place all of your ingredients and wash your mushrooms.
- When you go to warm your broth, add in the chopped sage and chopped chives to let them simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Cook off your polenta per package instructions and know that you may want to add more broth than the recommended amount to reach the right consistency.
- Heat your sautee pan, then add the rosemary olive oil. Add in the minced garlic, then oyster mushrooms and salt them, sautéing them until they begin to get that beautiful rich brown to them.
- Optional Note: if you wanted to get fancy and take it to the next level, this is the step where you could build a little pan sauce to pour over the polenta. You’d need to deglaze with white wine then build your sauce with stock, probably a little cream, and a lot of butter.
- In your polenta pot, add in the cream cheese and heavy cream and stir until it is incorporated. Add in the butter, stir it in, then finally add in your grated cheese. Mmmmm cheese. Taste it and adjust your seasonings, salt, and pepper.
- To plate, serve in a small bowl with oyster mushrooms over the top, garnished with your sage and chives.