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
- 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!