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Portabella Polenta

March 26, 2011

Polenta originated in the northeastern part of Italy and began as a poor man’s meal. Polenta is an inexpensive dish that is made with ground cornmeal, and if you buy a fine-grain version, it can have a very smooth and creamy texture. Use polenta to create a very complex and filling meal by combining it with meat, mushrooms, or cheese OR simply eat it by itself for breakfast. Of course, once again, I chose to use the great FUNGI!

Italians know how to cook comfort food, and this dish is warm, satisfying, and full of nutritional value. I used a portabella mushroom, which is full of thiamin, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, and zinc and is a very good source of dietary fiber. But if you work in a mixture of mushrooms (chanterelles, cremini, and portabella), the dish becomes downright heavenly. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups – ground whole cornmeal (if possible, whole cornmeal made from corn that has not been degermed)
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1/2 pound Fontina cheese, shredded
  • 1 yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound (2-4) portabella (mixed mushrooms), sliced and diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 pint bechamel sauce or a ready-made white sauce
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Heat the milk with a tablespoon of salt. When it boils stir in the cornmeal, stirring vigorously to avoid the formation of lumps, and proceed to cook the polenta.
  2. Before removing it from the stove stir in half of the cheese and the butter, mixing well.
  3. After removing the polenta, stir in the egg yolk, and then turn the polenta out into a slightly buttered pan large enough for it to make a layer about a half-inch (1.25 cm) thick. Let it cool. (You may prepare the polenta the night before)
  4. Heat the olive oil with the garlic and add the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and rosemary. Cook over a medium flame, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are cooked. While the mushrooms are cooking, preheat your oven to 400 F.
  5. Remove mushrooms and set aside in a bowl. Add the parsley to the top.
  6. Butter the bottom of a 9″ X 13″ pan and place 8 rounds of polenta (I used a drinking cup to cut the 8 rounds). Cover the disks with mushrooms, and the béchamel sauce. Finish with the other half of the fontina and bake until the surfaces are golden and serve at once.
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One Comment leave one →
  1. Trev permalink
    March 26, 2011 3:17 pm

    I was hesitant about how much I’d like polenta (after all, it was originally a poor person’s dish). When I tried this, though, I changed my mind right away. It was cheesy and creamy, and the mushrooms gave it a wonderful earthy flavor that really complimented the grain-like texture of the polenta well.

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