La Chatte Gitane (or The Gypsy Cat) was the name we chose for our cottage in France at the time. We chose it while on the road, moving house the first time round, from Ireland to France with 2 dogs and 7 cats in the car.
This blog began its insignificant life as a recipe book for friends and family who would ask me repeatedly for a recipe of this, that and the other.
Since then it has taken many different directions, like we did and like gypsies tend to do. Sometimes making a U-turn and revisiting familiar roads and taking a break when necessary.
You'll find recipes here, but also musings about the places we've called home, the gardens that we've established, not always successfully, the homes we've improved and the environments we've lived in. Currently, after yet another stint in Ireland, we're back in France @ Le Mas d'Ayen

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Mushroom and Chorizo Ragout with Creamy Polenta

It's been a few years  (8, at least)  since I last made polenta. But the idea must have been on my mind because a couple of months ago I bought some in the wholefood shop in Kenmare. I stored it safely away in the pantry in case of an apocalyptic event.
That apocalyptic event happened on Monday when I ran out of steam after I sliced about 6 kg of cucumber, plus onions, salted the bejaysus out of them, ready for pickling the next day.
Starving I was.  Right, I have mushrooms.  I'll make an autumnal  mushroom ragout and thus I set to trawling the internet.  I used this recipe as a guide, adapting as I went along.
I used only fresh mushrooms and not my dried porcini as they are for another apocalyptic event. I also added 4 of our homegrown chorizo sausages.

My recipe went as follows.
For the ragout.
Ingredients - serves 2 to 3
  • sunflower oil, 1 tbsp (or thereabouts)
  • 4 chorizo sausages (or other, of good quality)
  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • thyme, a few sprigs - hard stalks removed.
  • butter, 1 tbsp
  • 3 portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 200 gr closed cup mushrooms, quartered
  • 250 gr chestnut mushrooms, halved
  • tomato concentrate, 1 heaped tsp
  • white wine, 100 ml
  • chicken stock, 200 ml (from a cube is fine)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour in 1 tbsp of cold water
  • freshly chopped parsley,  a few sprigs
  • seasoning, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preparation Use a pan large enough to receive all the ingredients at one stage or another.
  • Heat the oil in a pan and brown the sausages all around. Please don't turn them into lumps of coal, so brown them on a low to moderate setting. 
  • Remove from the pan when cooked through. Set aside.
  • In the remaining oil, sautee the shalots with the whole, but crushed garlic cloves and add the thyme
  • When the onions are translucent, add in the butter.
  • Turn the heat up a notch and sautee off the mushrooms.
  • Then stir in the tomato concentrate and let it cook for a minute.
  • Next in is the white wine. 
  • Let it reduce before adding the stock.
  • Cut the sausages in disks and add to the pan.
  • Let this all simmer for about 5 minutes or until the liquid has reduced somewhat.
  • This is where I then add the cornflour if the sauce is too thin. Let it cook through for a minute.
  • Season to your liking and stir in the chopped parsley.
Oh the polenta !

I didn't even know instant polenta existed, therefore I used the guidelines on the packaging. I suggest you do the same.

  • 750 ml water to 120 gr polenta
  • chicken stock cube, bay leaf and sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • a splash (100 ml) of cream - I used double
  • a couple of handfulls (depending on the size of your hands, I've got shovels) of grated parmesan cheese.  
  • black pepper
  • Bring the water with stock cube and herbs to the boil
  • Reduce to a simmer and pour in the polenta in a steady stream while you whisk with a whisk to prevent lumps.
  • Revert to a wooden spoon and stir, this time to prevent sticking to the bottom and consequently burning your polenta !  Low setting.
  • Now, my packet said 30 flippin' minutes. Luckily, it was ready in 10 to 15.
  • Take off the heat and mix in the parmesan, butter and cream.
  • Season with black pepper and serve.

Don't let my long-winded post put you off, or the seemingly long list of ingredients, because it was a doddle and ready in half an hour.
The flavour was as rich and intense as the colour of the ragout. And boy did it shout autumnal!

Patricia xxx...x

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