I used to shy away from buying mushrooms outside of a “special occasion” because they are often so pricey. I have come to the conclusion, however, that I just love them too much to deny myself. At an Asian supermart I recently picked up some “king trumpet” mushrooms, and I have to say that they are the best mushrooms I have ever had. The texture was creamy somehow and the flavor was so addictive. I will definitely seek these out again. For the record, all I did was saute them in a very hot pan with some garlic and olive oil – I didn’t want to take away from them at all.
For this recipe, I just used baby criminis, but it was still very good.
For the mushroom ragu:
1 lb mushrooms (your favorites, or whatever is on sale), sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1/3 cup dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 green onions, sliced thin
1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional)
For the polenta:
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
Make the polenta according to the package directions (cooking time will vary depending on what type of polenta you have). Once the mixture is thick, fold in the blue cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour onto a silpat or greased cookie sheet and let cool. This can be done in advance and left in the fridge.
Heat a pan over high heat with a little olive oil. When pan is hot, add the mushrooms. Do not stir the mushrooms very often or they will not brown. Only stir once you see that they are getting a nice golden brown color. When the mushrooms have browned, add the onions and garlic, and cook until the onions have browned a bit. Add the red wine and chili flakes, and let it cook until most the wine has evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cornstarch is my secret for thickening a sauce at the last minute if it hasn’t turned out just the way I had hoped. I mix a teaspoon or so into a few tablespoons of cold water or broth and then stir it into the sauce. The important thing is to let the mixture come to a simmer again to ensure the the full thickening action of the cornstarch (and so the sauce doesn’t have a “starchy” taste).
Meanwhile, heat a nonstick pan over high heat with a little olive oil. Cut the cooled polenta into squares and place in the hot pan. Do not attempt to turn (as I did the first time) before a crispy crust has formed on the bottom. Once the squares have a nice brown crust, flip and wait for the same crust to form on the other side.
Arrange 2 or 3 polenta squares on each plate, top with some mushroom ragu and sprinkle with sliced green onions. Enjoy!