Friday, July 24, 2009

Autumn Comfort Food. In July.

Cold weather calls for comfort food, and creamy polenta with rosemary-spiked mushrooms is just the thing. Perfect for summer in San Francisco, where yesterday's daytime high topped out at 53 degrees west of Twin Peaks. Invigorating!

Polenta and Mushrooms

This is a super-easy, one-pot meal in two steps: first cook the topping, then keep it warm under a foil tent while you cook the polenta. This dish will take less than 30 minutes, prep to plate.

  • 1 pound mushrooms (any kind), sliced
  • 1 small leek, tender bottom 6" only, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, snipped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt
Prep the mushrooms, leek, garlic, and rosemary. Heat the olive oil to medium-high in a saute pan or wok. Add the garlic and leeks and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until they start to get soft. Add the butter and rosemary, sprinkle with a little salt, and continue to saute until the mushrooms just begin to get some nice golden-brown spots. (At this point I threw in some leftover grilled chicken breast. Why not?) Spoon the mushroom mixture into a bowl and cover it with a foil tent. Leave the oil and any leftover bits in the pan.

  • 1 cup quick-cooking polenta
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • 2 tablespoons shredded asiago (or other very sharp cheese)
Pour the broth and water into the (unwashed) pan. Bring it to a boil, then pour in the polenta in a stream, whisking the hell out of it the whole time. Lower the heat to medium-low, whisk in the half and half, and continue to whisk it until the polenta thickens (about 4 minutes, more or less). Whisk in the cheese.

Plate the polenta and top it with the mushrooms. In a concession to summer, we added a salad; sauteed greens are an excellent side in fall or winter.

And for anyone keeping track, this was day four of five planned meals. Success!

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