I would have to say that as a child I was not fond of polenta. The heaviness of it and the texture combined with the sauce. I guess as a child you develop a diversion to things out of the ordinary, although I did like watching my mother and father making it one pouring the polenta flour in the boiling water, and the other stirring and stirring, a most time consuming process. I remember once for Christmas being in Boston, and at one of my aunts houses where she had a large fireplace they made polenta over an open fire, this intrigued me for as a young person I loved the idea of cooking on an open camp fire, and more so loved the family all together in the room, lots of noise and laughter and reminiscence of times past. Did I eat a lot of polenta that night? not really, but I did like the flavor the fire produced into the polenta. It was also served with a slow simmered sugo (tomato sauce) and sausages also cooked in the sauce. Sometimes my mother would even put boiled eggs. As time has it I grew up and so did my taste buds. I developed a taste for things like squid, mussels, oysters, clams, things I would always say yuk to and clench my jaw as I saw a spoon coming towards me and my mom saying try it it’s good, followed by you just don’t know good food when you see it. And yes you guessed now I like polenta too.
Saturday morning and a beautiful day it is sunny and off to the Strathcona Market to get ingredients for our weekly meal plan. One of the recipes we wanted to do was a nice polenta dish having bought a bag of mushrooms from Mona Food at the market gave Nicoletta an idea of polenta and mushrooms saying it was a regional dish of northern Italy. I would never argue with Nicoletta about regional Italian food she has this area mastered and covered with a passion I could not even contend with. She is proud of her heritage and cultural cuisine and why not, it’s beautiful, tasty, fresh, and healthy, and with that being said Nicoletta and I give you a dish with the traditions of northern Italy and a bit of inspiration from a cheese produced in Switzerland. A recipe we called Polenta with Raclette and Mixed Mushroom.
Polenta is somewhat like a porridge but made with corn flour. It has that warm creamy texture and even better the next day fried or baked in the oven. It gets that crispy edge flavor just like if you barbecued corn yummy. We had some left over instant polenta flour and Nicoletta guided me on this as she had the picture of this dish in her mind. We made the polenta me slowly pouring the corn meal into the boiling water and Nicoletta with whisk blending the mixture as to not have it become a lumpy mess. I took over from Nicoletta whisking and whisking till the polenta thickened and was bubbling. We were thinking nice squares of this mixture so we spread it out into a square deep baking pan and put it into the fridge to cool and set.While that was happening Nicoletta and I prepared the mushrooms a combination of small button, oyster, chanterelle, shiitake, enoki, and portobellini mushrooms. Sauteed in beautiful extra virgin olive oil, white wine, salt, pepper, and a little kick from some peperoncini (chili flakes). The idea of using Raclette came from a sampling of the cheese at the Italian Centre in West Edmonton. There they had prepared a beautiful crostini with some melted raclette on it and wow it was amazing and we thought it would elevate our polenta dish to a different level. After the polenta had cooled and set a bit of a drizzle of olive oil and into a nice hot oven to bake until warmed through and golden brown edges began to appear the addition of the raclette till melted and bubbling, then cut into square dressed with the sauteed mushrooms and there you have it a beautiful presentation of polenta with raclette and mixed mushrooms.
The polenta light and crispy on the outside that beautiful taste of grilled corn in the backdrop, the texture inside smooth and yet a bit creamy, the flavor of the sauteed mushrooms with a bit of sweetness from the white wine coming through, and some spice form the dried chilies, and not to forget the thing that pulled this polenta recipe together, the raclette gooey melted cheese, and that familiar taste close to a swiss or gruyere absolutely delicious. I love how all the flavors compliment each other, and the mixture of textures work so well together. There will definitely be a sequel to this recipe stay tuned.
- 1 cup instant polenta flour
- 1 liter water
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 350 g mixed mushrooms
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, whole
- 1 pinch peperoncino (chili flakes)
- 3 Tbsp white wine
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp parsley, fresh or dried
- 6 slices Raclette cheese
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- cracked black pepper
- For the Mushrooms: Clean mushrooms by cutting the ends. Put them in a colander and pass it under the tap very quickly (make sure that they don’t get too wet), ruffling the contents with your hands to get rid of the dirt fast. Dry with kitchen paper towel.
- For the Polenta: Bring water to boil add some salt to taste.
- Slowly pour in polenta flour. With a whisk stir briskly until smooth.
- Keep stirring until polenta becomes thick and bubbles and cook following cooking times labeled on the package (for the instant one it should be just few minutes).
- Take off heat.
- Take a 9″ by 9″ deep baking pan and coat with extra virgin olive oil.
- Spread the polenta mixture into the pan at a thickness of 1 to 1 1/2 inches.
- Place pan in fridge covered for about 1 hour or untill polenta is firm.
- Take polenta out of fridge and place in a 380 F oven for about 35 minutes or until edges start to brown.
- Meanwhile, while the polenta is in the oven, prepare the mushrooms: Sauté them in a saucepan with extra virgin olive oil, garlic whole and chili flakes. Toss on medium fire for about 5 minutes then pour white wine and cook until they start to color and the wine dissipates. Season with salt and sprinkle with parsley. Cover and keep warm.
- Place raclette slices on top of the polenta and put back into oven and bake till cheese is melted and bubbling.
- Take polenta out of oven and cut into equal squares.
- Place mushrooms on top of the melted cheese.
- Serve hot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or even a flavored olive oil of your choosing, and a dusting of fresh cracked black pepper.
- Serving Size: 4 servings
Today’s song: ” Long way Home” by Super Tramp. A true classic!
And if you are a mushroom lover, we’ve got you covered. Try some of our mushroom deliciousness:
- Mixed Mushroom Risotto
- Mushroom Risotto Arancini
- Portobellini Mushroom Fajitas
- Marvelous Mushroom Veggie Burger
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