Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sautéed mushrooms with toasted polenta

Serves 4

Polenta purists will baulk at the notion I'm happy to present here, but really, for toasting or pan frying the stuff to give it a crisp edge, the instant fast cook type is more than adequate. Start to finish this is an hour to make, and 40 minutes of that is allowing the polenta to cool enough to slice and grill. if that's way too long to wait, toast some baguette, do the mushroom thing and shave over some Parmesan at the end, almost as satisfying, and a perfect midweek snack/supper/lunch with a bit of salad on the side.

1 litre water
300g instant polenta
350g assorted mushrooms
70g butter
4 shallots finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and bashed
6 juniper berries
a good handful of parsley
half a lemon

Put the water on to boil in a thick bottomed saucepan. As soon as it boils, remove from the heat, pour in the polenta, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, then put it back on the heat and stir until thick enough for the spoon to stand up.

Lightly oil a bowl, scoop the polenta into it, and leave to cool. It will solidify on cooling. Wipe the mushrooms and slice or quarter them if they are large. Remember they will shrink on cooking, so don't cut them too small.
Get the butter frothing in a shallow pan, crush the juniper berries and add them, then add the challots and after half a minute the mushrooms and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes allowing the mushrooms to colour appetisingly.

Chop the parsley and stir it in, remove the garlic cloves. Season with salt, coarsely ground black pepper and a little lemon juice to taste. Heat the grill or a cast-iron griddle pan. Turn the polenta out and cut it into thick slices.

Brush with a little oil and grill till crisp on the outside. Place the toasted polenta on plates and pile the mushrooms on top.