Phwoar. Check out those mushrooms. How I hated them as a child; how I love them now. Last weekend Mum gave me a call - at my recommendation she'd gone to Damian Pike's gourmet mushroom stall at the Prahran Market and one of the nice young men had helped her select a cornucopia of mushrooms. Would I like to come over for a lunch she was preparing for Nonna and Nonno of wild mushroom ragu on wet polenta?
Serving as Mum's lovely assistant, I sliced up the mushrooms. Here they are in all their glory (clockwise from bottom left): king oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, (rehydrated) porcini mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and Swiss brown mushrooms.
The king oysters were the only ones we pre-prepared separately - I sliced them thinly then pan fried them in a small amount of butter. I just ADORE the taste of them, so much so that I went back to the gourmet mushroom guy yesterday and bought a few more. Any suggestions as to what I should do with them?
The recipe for the wild mushroom ragu was a Karen Martini one taken from an old Sunday Life magazine clipping. We used different mushrooms, and Mum added the mascarpone into the polenta rather than serving it on top. Despite my Northern Italian heritage, I can normally take or leave polenta... but this dish was MAGNIFICO, the best meal I've had in weeks!
WILD MUSHROOM RAGU WITH WET POLENTA AND MASCARPONE
80mL extra version olive oil
4 eschalots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
10g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water, drained and chopped
250g field mushrooms, chopped
50g enoki mushrooms
250g cepe mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
250g pine mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
100mL white wine
300mL chicken stock (or porcini stock if you want your dish to be vegetarian)
1 cup instant polenta
150g grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
Heat the EVOO and half the butter in a large pan over high heat. Add eschalots and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add bay leaf and thyme and cook for 5 minutes. Add porcini, field, enoki, cepe and pine mushrooms, then add wine and stir. Add stock and simmer for ten minutes.
Heat 750mL water in a large saucepan over high heat until boiling. Sprinkle in polenta, whisking constantly for 6-8 minutes or until polenta is thick and cooked. Add remaining butter and parmesan and season. To serve, spoon polenta into bowls and make a well in each. Spoon mushrooms into well and add a dollop of mascarpone. Pass around extra parmesan separately.
The polenta dish was preceded by antipasti of West Australian prosciutto (SO GOOD - my Nonno couldn't believe it wasn't Italian!) and olives, and marinated fetta. After the polenta we had a simple salad of radicchio and lettuce, and a variety of formaggi.
No meal with my nonni would be complete without these extra courses! :)