All alone with my memories…

Mushrooms and Polenta

I don’t watch TV very often, at least compared to the “average” person, but there are a few shows that I am addicted to. One of these shows is Top Chef on Bravo, because it not only gives me great ideas for food combinations it also gives an hour long escape. While the vast majority of the recipes on the show are unusable as is (they have a strange affiliation for pork that I don’t get) watching the season finale for Top Chef Master got me thinking. Part of the challenge is to create a recipe based on your earliest food memory, which for me was simple. One of the earliest memories I have is of my paternal Grandma cooking Cabbage and Polenta in our old house. I remember her cutting up the cabbage and tossing into this HUGE pot along with anything else she could find: carrots, tomatoes, onions, and some type of meat. She would then move on to the Polenta and would occasionally let us help her stir the polenta and attempt to show us how to tell if it was ready. She would then place it in the bottom of our bowls and start ladeling in the deliciousness of the cabbage dish. While my sibling normally didn’t touch this meal I had great fondness for it, and can also remember picking out the “icky” pepperonnis that occasionally made their way in to the dish. So I decided to recreate her polenta and top it with a variation of a mushroom “sauce” I saw on the Food Network courtesy of Mr. Guy Fieri. I’m not sure what restaurant he was visiting but they served this over rice and it was also more like a cream of mushroom soup while I did mine thinner to go better with the Polenta. I tried recreating it based on what they threw in during the demo but since they were doing a mass batch for the first part of the dinner rush I’m 90% positive that my ratios were off, however this was still AMAZING and will be a repeat dish due to the ease in which it was made and the amazing flavor combination!

For the Mushroom Sauce:
3 cups thinly sliced mushrooms (I used a combination of baby bella & white)
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp butter
1 cup Monterey Jack, shredded
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 onion, thinly diced
1. Place mushrooms, water, and butter in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 6 minutes.
2. Stir in cheese, tomato, and onion, cover, and cook 5 minutes or until the cheese melts.
3. Pour into a serving bowl and serve hot with fresh polenta.
For the Polenta
1/2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups skim milk
2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
3 tbsp butter
1. Warm the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat, add the garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes or until the garlic is slightly golden.
2. Add the milk and water and bring the mixture to a heavy simmer. Add the salt and then gradually whisk in the cornmeal.
3. Reduce heat to low and cook about 15 minutes or until the mixture thickens, stirring often. Turn off the heat, add the butter and stir until melted. ENJOY!
To make a really authentic polenta use a cast iron skillet instead of the saucepan, one day I will buy a larger one…