Yesterday’s post about wild herbs and foraging got me thinking about mushrooms. Sure you can find mushrooms year-round in the supermarket, but I was craving something tastier than your usual Portobello, Shitake and White Button mushrooms. It’s hard to find the good ones in the shops like Chanterelles, Hen of the Woods, Hedgehog, and Porcini (my favorite). Autumn is mushroom season! Some foraging knowledge would definitely come in handy right about now. 🙂 I bet there are blankets of wild mushrooms out in the nearby forests waiting to be picked. However, It’s not very likely that I will be foraging this season (I’d probably pick all the poisonous ones HAHA). So I did the next best thing. I went out to the Baltimore’s Farmers Market this morning under the JFX bridge and picked up some delicious funghi from the mushroom stall.
They had Porcini!!! But unfortunately, I didn’t bring any home. 🙁 There was one basket left for $20. And for the amount of mushrooms in that basket, I would’ve needed to buy at least 3. I wasn’t prepared to spend $60 on mushrooms alone. I mean, I probably could’ve gotten away with it because Kevin was at home watching football HAHA, but I was responsible. 😉 Instead, I picked up a basket of Chanterelles and a basket of Hedgehogs for $24. Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are also in season. So I got a head of cauliflower, a stalk of Brussels sprouts, some Honey Crisp and Pink Lady apples, eggplants, carrots and French Breakfast radishes. I’m very much looking forward to this week’s meals!
With the Chanterelles and Hedgehogs, I decided to make Polenta con Funghi. Polenta is cornmeal that you cook like porridge or grits and can be served in a few different ways. Today, I made a creamy loose polenta and topped it with pan roasted mushrooms. Again, another extremely quick, easy and super flavorful dish.
1 cup polenta (I used a quick polenta that is ready in 5-10 minutes)
4 cups water
1 knob of butter
grated parmiggiano reggiano, a good handful
Pan Roasted Mushrooms
Chanterelle mushrooms, a handful cut in half or quarters depending on size
Hedgehog mushrooms, a handful cut in half or quarters depending on size
2 cloves garlic, whole
4 or 5 sprigs of thyme
Never wash mushrooms under running water! They tend to soak in all the moisture and you end up with a watery mushroom. When preparing and cooking mushrooms, you’re looking for lots of concentrated flavor and a watery mushroom won’t give you that. I like to take a pastry brush and brush away any dirt or grit under the cap and stem. If there are stubborn bits of dirt left on the mushroom, I’ll take a damp paper towel and rub it away. This step is very important because you don’t want to bite into crunchy grit while you’re enjoying your delicious wild mushrooms…
…or accidentally eat a slimy friend chilling under a cap. EEK!
When you pan roast mushrooms you want to make sure your skillet/pan is HOT HOT HOT! Put some olive oil and butter in the pan. When the butter begins to sizzle, toss in your garlic, mushrooms and thyme. Toss the mushrooms a few times to coat in oil. Leave to cook away. Season with salt and pepper. No utensils needed and you really could just leave them alone in the pan if you didn’t feel like tossing them. Add in another little knob of butter at the end and wait for it to completely melt before turning off the heat. I cooked mine for about 10-12 minutes, until the mushrooms were crispy along the edges and were golden brown. Discard the garlic.
Pour 4 cups of water into a pot. When it comes to a rolling boil, add in 1 cup of polenta. STIR STIR STIR your polenta mixture with a whisk. Pay careful attention to your polenta as you don’t want it to be lumpy and it spits bubbles of hot polenta at you as it thickens (it’s super hot so it kinda hurts if it lands on you HAHA). I used a quick polenta that only required 5-10 minutes of cook time. When it’s nearly ready (around 5 minutes), add in a knob of butter (stir stir stir) and your grated parmiggiano (stir stir stir). The saltiness of the parmiggiano is usually enough to season the polenta, but everyone has different tastes so feel free to add in more salt or cheese if needed.
Lunch is served! Oozy bed of polenta topped with crispy pan roasted mushrooms, grated parmiggiano reggiano, parsley and a nice drizzling of good extra virgin olive oil. Tastes like autumn! Che buono!
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