I love mushrooms. I love to eat them. I love to cook them and I love to photograph them. They are more interesting to photograph when they are raw than when they are all brown after cooking. But, I love them anyway.
I mean, really. Look at this oyster mushroom! Is it not just gorgeous and interesting? I used this photo for my Food Blogging Photography course I’m taking. Then, of course, I had to find something to do with it and all the other interesting mushrooms I found…
A few of them are a little beaten up, but they are certainly good enough to eat. I decided I would collaborate with Yes! Chef! because I found an interesting recipe and I wanted to cook it myself. (?!) He agreed because it was Roast Chicken Sunday on Tuesday (he was busy working on Sunday, so we had to wait until Tuesday.) Yes! Chef! makes the best roast chicken, which I have mentioned before. I found a recipe that I thought would go with it that involved the above mushrooms and polenta.
So, after I finished photographing the mushrooms in beautiful window light, I got busy chopping them up.
After this picture, there was a lot going on in the kitchen with me busy making polenta and Yes! Chef! busy with the chicken. Believe it or not, we got along quite well in the kitchen cooking together. We haven’t done that in a while and I think I would like to try it again.
And…it was tasty too.
Here’s the recipe for the Mushroom Ragout (which is actually an appetizer, but we improvised):
Makes 10 first course servings.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup polenta (coarse cornmeal)*
- 1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated Comté cheese
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms (such as oyster, crimini, and stemmed shiitake), thickly sliced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
- 1/3 cup crème fraîche or whipping cream
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
- 1/3 cup (packed) coarsely grated Comté cheese
Generously butter 13x9x1- inch baking sheet. Bring milk, broth, and bay leaf to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove saucepan from heat; cover and let steep 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Discard bay leaf. Bring liquid to boil. Gradually add polenta, whisking constantly until smooth. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until polenta is very thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Stir in Comté cheese and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer polenta to prepared 13x9x1-inch baking sheet. Using wet hands, press polenta evenly over sheet to edges. Chill until firm, at least 3 hours. Cut polenta into 20 squares. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
For mushroom ragout:
Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons oil in large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add all mushrooms and sauté until tender and browned, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add shallots and balsamic vinegar; sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Season lightly to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Rewarm mushrooms in large skillet over medium-high heat until heated through. Add broth and simmer 1 minute. Stir in crème fraîche and half of parsley. Season mushroom ragout to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300°F. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add polenta squares to skillet and cook until browned, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in oven while cooking remaining polenta squares.
Arrange 2 polenta squares on each plate. Top each with warm mushroom ragout; sprinkle with grated Comté cheese and remaining parsley and serve.
Comté is a semi-firm, Gruyère-style cow’s-milk cheese made primarily in France’s Franche-Comté region. It adds great flavor to this recipe and would also be delicious on a cheese platter. Comté is available at some supermarkets, cheese shops, and specialty foods stores.
*Polenta can be found at some supermarkets, as well as at natural foods stores and Italian markets. If polenta is unavailable, substitute an equal amount of regular yellow cornmeal and cook it about half as long.