Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Polenta with Mushrooms

I was at a wedding last weekend and three food items being served struck my fancy, I decided I want to make them all on this blog. There was a cream of polenta that was out of this world. It was similar to mashed potatoes, but it was very creamy considering polenta is very gritty. Im not sure how this was accomplished, possibly lots of butter and it was run through food porcessor after cooked, at any rate everyone was raving about the "polenta".
I decided to make polenta as a main entres on the blog this week, since I have never actually made it before and nor has Kim. However, I decided to not try to replicate what I had the other night since I really dont know how it was prepared and It was more of a side dish, not an entres. Upon researching Polenta, I discovered their are tons and tons of ways to make cornmeal- boiled, baked, fried, as a pizza crust, muffin base, pie crust the list goes on. The first choice was easy, I decided to boil it because that seemed easiest route, because even if I was to bake or fry the cornmeal, I would have to boil it first to get it ready to bake or fry. Does that make sense? I decided to top the polenta with a combination of button and portobello mushrooms sauce. All in all, I think my first attempt at polenta came out pretty good. I made a few mistakes, but the good news is, Kim is making hers tonight and upon discussing with her, she already knows how she will make it better then mine, so hers will be near perfect.
I learned a few facts about polenta in the last few days and made lots of discoveries

First, it originates from northern Italy(long ago :))
It is ground up corn(I guess I knew that but never really thought about that)
It was considered paesant food because it was so cheap to make
It is served at some of the finest dining establishments and a pretty penny is charged for it(may be considred so gourmet because of its long prep period)
It is healthier then white pasta or rice, containing tons of fiber
oh, and lastly, it is cheap, cheap, cheap!! $1.99 a 5 lb bag at my very expensive local grocery store. That translates to 25 cups of cornmeal in a bag, and 1 cup(which serves 4 hungry eaters, cost .08, so that would be .02 a person! unreal.

lastly, it was easier to make then I thought, I did however boil the cornmeal with water, and i did think it very bland, even after I added some salt, and thats when Kim said "chicken broth" would have been better than water.

Recipe for Polenta
1 cup cornmeal
4 cups of water(thats what I did, Kim is going to use chicken broth instead)
salt to taste
Boil water, when the water is boiling add cornmeal slowly, stirring the whole time, slowly lower heat to low-medium and continue stirring 10-20 minutes
add salt if water is used and not chicken broth

serve imediately

for mushrooms
1 lb button mushrooms sliced in quarters
1/2 lb portabello mushrooms sliced in quarters
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon parsley
1/2 cup white wine

heat oil on low
add garlic
saute 5 minutes
add mushrooms, stirring
saute for 10 minutes
add white wine
saute 10 more minutes
add salt and pepper and parsley

keep on low until polenta is made
plate each plate with equal portions of polenta
top with mushrooms
add parm cheese or red pepper if desire

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