Local Mushroom Polenta

It might just be the perfect Thanksgiving side dish. Easy, flavorful, vegetarian, and versatile, polenta dishes are the perfect creative outlet for the home cook. Saturday afternoon we went on a huge shopping spree for fresh groceries; previous weekends away in San Francisco and Portland meant we had very little food in the house. I had a week of cooking and blogging all planned out.

When my sister called Saturday night to let us know our nephew would be coming sooner rather than later, my first thought was to pack my suitcase and to get ready for a drive to New Jersey. My second thought at 10:00 at night? Make polenta.

I knew that once I got to NJ there would not be much time for blogging or cooking, so I went to work on one of the dishes I had planned for the week. I started with local mushrooms from Siena Farms, cleaned, chopped, and set aside.

mushrooms

mushrooms

I also chopped a whole shallot from Siena Farms. I added the shallot to a tablespoon of Kerrygold butter and started to cook the shallot on low.

shallot

After a few minutes, I added the mushroom and a bit more butter.

image

While the mushrooms and shallot sizzled gently on the side, I added 6 cups of boiling water from my electric tea kettle (a wedding gift and one of the BEST inventions ever!) to my Le Creuset French Oven. We use the electric kettle for everything from making tea to boiling pasta water. It is much quicker than boiling it on the stove.

cornmeal

Making sure the water was at a rolling boil, I added a cup and a quarter cornmeal, a generous shake of sea salt, and a pat of Kerrygold and stirred, stirred, stirred with my whisk. The cornmeal grew in volume very quickly. I lowered the heat and let it bubble away for about 10 minutes.

image

I forgot to take photos of the rest. Embarrassed smile By the time the dish was finished, it was after 11:00, and I was both nervous for my sister and exhausted.

As the mushrooms and shallots were cooking, I added about 3/4 cup of   Venge Late Harvest Zinfandel.

Venge Late Harvest Zinfandel

Note: I did NOT add in any of the Whisker Lickins behind the bottle Winking smile 

This Venge dessert wine added the perfect amount of sweetness to the mushrooms and onions, and once these ingredients were combined, I stirred them into the cornmeal and added another 1/4 cup of the wine, stirring everything until creamy. I was loosely trying to recreate some of the flavors from the Americano mushroom soup from Foodbuzz Festival, and while the polenta was of course different, it definitely had similar flavors.

I only got to eat a few bites before packing the polenta up for my husband for the week, but it was the perfect comfort food. I would eat it by itself for a meal, but I can also see it going great with a pork roast or turkey.

And since everything but the cornmeal was local, I am including this as one of the recipes I am making for Chef Robin White’s Fresh and Local Thanksgiving Challenge. I am working on a few more for Thanksgiving as well as a couple of holiday recipes for a Kitchen Play assignment. I can’t wait to get back to Boston and into my kitchen for some hands-on research!

Are you cooking Thanksgiving dinner or any part of it this year?

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Tags: cooking with wine, holiday side dish, holidays, mushrooms, polenta, recipe, Vegetarian, wine, Zinfandel

  1. MelissaNibbles’s avatar

    I love anything with mushrooms. Can you pack some up for me?

    Reply

  2. Grace’s avatar

    Mushrooms and sweet red wine are a great combination! This is a lovely use of seasonal ingredients!

    Reply

  3. Elina’s avatar

    Congrats to your sister! I love creamy polenta and LOOOOVE mushrooms. The local ones are so expensive, though. I just can’t bring myself to splurge like that. Maybe I should since the farmers markets are almost done for the season. So sad.

    Reply

    1. traveleatlove’s avatar

      I didn’t realize how expensive the local ones were until it was actually time to pay! I don’t want to talk about how much my little bag of mushrooms cost! But yeah, I did justify it a little by remembering that the farmers markets close next week. :(

      Reply

    2. Sues’s avatar

      Polenta is one of my very favorite dishes… especially with mushrooms!! My mom and I were just discussing Thanksgiving dinner…. It’s always a battle in my house because my parents LOVE cooking and have everything planned to a T! Plus there are only 8 of us. I can’t wait, thought!

      Congratulations on your new nephew :) :)

      Reply

    3. Liz Marr, MS, RD’s avatar

      Oohh – two of my favorites: polenta and mushrooms. A winning combination.

      Reply

    4. sweetlife’s avatar

      polenta and mushrooms a perfect fall side dish, I love the addition of shallots and wine..I also received a tea kettle for my wedding..I agree best invention ever..congrast to your sis!!

      sweetlife

      Reply

      1. traveleatlove’s avatar

        Thank you!

        Reply

      2. A Boston Food Diary’s avatar

        Looks DELICIOUS! So funny- when I lived in London during college my flat had an electric tea kettle and I ALWAYS used it to heat water for pasta or rice or soup or whatever- SO much easier! This DOES look like a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving!

        Reply

        1. traveleatlove’s avatar

          We had one in Ireland when I lived there as well, and everyone in my husband’s family over there has one. They are much quicker over there! The one we had boiled water in seconds which is always great for the many, many cups of tea we drank all day!

          Reply

        2. katie @ recreationaleating.com’s avatar

          oh, i love this! i hope your sister is doing well and congrats on the new beeb!!

          Reply

        3. Megan’s avatar

          You’re so creative! This sounds like a great dish. I don’t know if I’d have the willpower to pack the rest of it up. And I know just what you mean about having nothing in the house. I desperately need to get to the store tonight… I’ve been living off pasta with canned sauce and white rice with butter and cheese.

          Reply

        4. Chef Robin White’s avatar

          Beautiful dish girl!! I can taste it from here. Congrats on the bouncing baby
          And I can’t wait to see what else your doing fresh and local. Venge in the mushrooms honey your living large lol!! Cheers!!!

          Reply

        5. Terri’s avatar

          This looks like a delicious Thanksgiving side dish or an easy dinner for any night!

          Reply

        6. Shannon’s avatar

          i still haven’t made polenta! that’s crazy, i think :) and i want a water kettle, such a fabulous idea!! This looks awesome, and i’ve never tried local mushrooms, although now i want some :)

          Reply

        7. Enrico’s avatar

          the sauteed pics of the mushrooms look good. and I remember your high praise for the Venge wines you tasted earlier this year for your birthday. The two together must have been amazing.

          Reply

        8. Julie’s avatar

          We are going to my family’s for Thanksgiving, but I really love hosting it too! We have SO much fun planning the menu and deciding when to make what and the different courses!

          Reply

          1. traveleatlove’s avatar

            Yay! Hopefully I will get to see you sometime around Thanksgiving!

            Reply

          2. MarathonVal’s avatar

            Polenta and mushrooms are two of my favorite foods…. and you really can’t beat local mushrooms, they are definitely worth the high price if you ask me! And I don’t remember if I told you congrats before, but if I haven’t, congrats on the new addition to your family!

            Reply

            1. traveleatlove’s avatar

              Thank you! The local mushrooms were really good, and even though pricey, I love the farmers I bought them from and hope to do my part in keeping farms around!

              Reply

            2. Beth @ DiningAndDishing’s avatar

              Mushrooms and polenta sounds like one heck of a dreamy combo!! Mushrooms are perhaps my favorite food ever. I’m going to make a portobello layered mashed potato dish for Thanksgiving this year and I can’t wait! :)

              Reply

              1. traveleatlove’s avatar

                I love portabellos! That sounds like a delicious dish!

                Reply

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