I could seriously snack on these mushrooms all day long; they are buttery and crispy and add so much flavor and texture to creamy, cheesy polenta! Making them is pretty simple and really only requires a good pan that distributes heat really well, cast iron is my go to! Make sure you don’t over crowd the pan and don’t panic when all your butter disappears in the pan! Mushrooms are like a sponge and soak up liquid like crazy…eventually they hit a saturation point and all that stored liquid comes rushing out. This liquid will evaporate with more cooking and what is left is a concentrated, flavorful, crispy mushroom.
Polenta is also pretty simple and makes for a great change up if you feel like all you cook are potatoes and rice. It’s similar to grits; both are essentially dried corn pourage. The difference is: to make grits you take the dried corn and soak it in lie, (the same way you make masa from hominy) re-dry it, and then grind it into a meal. Polenta is just ground corn (corn meal). You get more corn flavor with polenta, but grits cook faster. I like polenta for its flavor. When buying corn meal for polenta you have two options, you can buy plain old corn meal or you can buy (usually imported) dry polenta meal which is just a slightly finer ground meal than regular corn meal. I typically just use plain old corn meal; I did however run it though my spice grinder for a minute just to get it a little finer.
1 package mushroom (I used Cremini Mushrooms)
3 tablespoon butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a cast iron pan on medium/high heat melt butter, add sliced mushrooms and salt and pepper, stir till fully coated in butter. Spread the mushrooms in the pan to ensure maximum contact with the pan and cook for about 3-4 min. turn over mushrooms and cook for another 3-4 min. stir again and crisp for another 4 min. or till desired crispiness. Mushrooms should be golden brown in color and smell like toasted butter.
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1 cup Corn Meal (or dry polenta)
2 cups Milk
1 cup Chicken Stock
1 bunch of spinach (about 2 cups)
½ cup Parmesan Cheese
½ cup Butter
½ cup Cream
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor blend together spinach, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, set aside. In a pot with the heat off add milk, chicken stock, butter and corn meal. Place on stove and slowly bring to a low boil/simmer, cook for 20 minutes stirring often to prevent sticking and clumping. Pull off heat and add parmesan cheese, spinach puree and cream. Stir together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crispy mushrooms. Makes about 2-3 servings.