Soft Polenta With Garlic Mushrooms

Soft polenta, the sort embellished with butter and cream, belongs to the family of soupy, starchy nannying food that serves to soothe and sustain (I’m thinking dal, porridge and congee). The generous amount of cream, butter and cheese is not negotiable. They are the point of the recipe. You could easily substitute a vegetable stock should you prefer.

Serves: 2-3
chicken stock 1 litre
coarse polenta (bramata) 150g
butter 80g
double cream 250g
grated parmesan 100g
boiling water 150ml

For the mushrooms
large field mushrooms 2
chestnut mushrooms 150g
olive oil 5 tbsp
butter 80g
garlic 3 cloves
parsley 2 heaped tbsp, chopped 
sage leaves 4, chopped

Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a deep-sided, heavy-based saucepan. As the stock starts to boil, rain in the polenta, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring, making sure to get deep into the corners of the pan. Continue cooking, turning the heat down a little, for 40 minutes, stirring almost constantly.

Cut the mushrooms into slices about 1cm thick. Warm the oil for the mushrooms in a large frying pan then add the butter. When the oil starts to fizz add the mushrooms. You may find it easier to do this in two batches. Cook the mushrooms until soft and honey coloured, turning them once during cooking, then remove them to a dish using kitchen tongs.

Stir the butter, cream and parmesan into the polenta, then pour in enough boiling water to give a soft texture that will fall easily from the spoon. Peel and finely slice the garlic, add to the frying pan, letting it brown lightly in the butter left by the mushrooms. Return the mushrooms briefly to the pan, add the chopped parsley and sage make sure everything is warm.

Spoon the polenta into a serving dish, add the mushrooms and garlic and serve.

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