Mushroom was not a part of my culinary repertoire until we lived in Washington and our friends introduced us to most amazing varieties. Every fall they would trek to Olympic National Forest and hunt for golden chanterelles and lobster mushrooms deep in the forest, turning over salal and fern to look for these treasures on the forest floor. When the mushroom crop was good, we were gifted with pounds of chanterelles. I’m smitten with the chanterelle because of its lovely peach-like fragrant, golden color, and meaty texture. I love turning chanterelles and other mushrooms into a ragu to pair with a bowl of polenta. This dish is one of our favorite fall comfort foods especially for those nights when we want a hearty vegetarian meal.
Truffled polenta with mushroom ragu
½ lb of chanterelle mushrooms (cleaned and cut in big chunks)
½ lb of portobello mushrooms (cleaned and quartered)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
2 sprigs of thyme
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 small shallots, chopped
½ cup of white wine
½ cup of creme fraiche
salt and pepper
½ cup of polenta
1 ½ cups of water
1 cup of milk
¼ cup of Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of truffle oil
1. To make the mushroom ragu, heat oil oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds.
2. Add the shallots, garlic, and thyme and let everything cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the mushrooms and coat them in the butter and shallot mixture. Let them cook for about 10 minutes until their juices start release and evaporate.
4. When the mixture starts to dry up a bit, add in the white wine and creme fraiche and cook for another 15 minutes.
5. Season the mushroom ragu with salt and pepper to taste.
6. For the polenta, pour water in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly pour the polenta in the pan while gently whisking the mixture together. Stir the polenta occasionally with a wooden spoon while it’s gently simmering to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
7. Add in the milk and continue cooking the polenta for another 30 minutes or until softened. If the mixture starts to dry out, add two tablespoons of water at a time to soften the mixture.
8. When the polenta is softened, stir in the shaved Parmesan cheese and truffle oil. Season with salt to taste.
9. Divide the polenta between four bowls and top with mushroom ragu. Garnish with chopped parsley and additional Parmesan cheese if you like.