February is Battle Mushroom, part of the monthly food fight “Beet n’ Squash You” hosted by Mel of Gourmet Fury and Leela of She Simmers.
Many people think about mushrooms in the same way they think about Valentine’s Day: they view this flavorful fungus with disdain and annoyance. I am among those who love both mushrooms and Valentine’s Day. With mushrooms I choose to look beyond the dirt-coated exterior to find the rich earthy flavor below. The same goes for Valentine’s Day. I look beyond the crass commercialization of this day and prefer to view it as a pure celebration of love. Diamonds and flowers aside, it can be a nice excuse to simply remember the romance of a first kiss.
Keeping those themes in mind I have created a simple meal to share with the one you love. Wild Mushroom Polenta Hearts are rich and comforting. The creamy polenta marries well with the unabashed flavors of the Shiitake, Maitake, and Cremini mushrooms. Add freshly grated Parmigiano to accentuate the savory notes of the mushrooms.
I paired these polenta hearts with a perfectly roasted chicken brightly seasoned with lemon and herbs. The chicken had a crisp skin with moist and tender meat below. The Wild Mushroom Polenta Hearts and roasted chicken were simply beautiful together. I finished the dish with spiced honey and crushed fried sage for added depth.
This is not only a recipe for a delicious meal, it is a recipe for instant seduction.
Wild Mushroom Polenta:
1 cup polenta
4 cups water
1/2 cup cremini
1/2 cup maitake
1/4 cup shitake
1/2 cup Parmigiano
In a heavy sauce pan bring water to a boil. Once water is boiling slowly stream in polenta. Create a vortex in the water with your whisk before you begin pouring in polenta. Whisk constantly for 3 – 5 minutes until polenta begins to thicken. Once polenta thickens low simmer for another 30 minutes stirring frequently.
Meanwhile saute mushrooms with 3 tablespoons of butter until they become golden brown.
When the polenta is ready, mix in the mushrooms and Parmigiano. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Evenly spread polenta onto a lined sheet pan. Let cool. Once cooled cover the polenta wit
h plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator over night or for an hour to cool.
Use a heart cookie cutter to create polenta hearts. Before serving sear polenta hearts in a non-stick skillet over high heat. Use a little butter to get a nice, crisp brown edge to your polenta. Let the polenta sear, untouched for 2 -4 minutes per side.
* I purchased a roasted chicken from Joan’s on Third. It is easy to prepare a roasted chicken, but for a quick and delicious weeknight meal Joan’s on Third offers daily hot dinner items available after 4pm. Why not let someone do the cooking for you!
Joan’s on Third
8350 West Third Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048