Easy Baked Polenta with Mushroom Topping
From Cook”s Country
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:
Creamy polenta—basically a porridge of cornmeal and water—is a comforting Italian side dish, but cooking it on the stovetop means up to a half-hour of nonstop stirring. Using the same ratio of cornmeal to water (1:4) and the right kind of polenta (medium-grain polenta or cornmeal), we were able to adapt traditional polenta into a completely hands-off dish. A shallow-sided baking dish sped up the cooking time, and a moderate oven prevented the liquid from evaporating too quickly, which could cause dry pockets. Butter and Parmesan stirred in at the end added richness.
Serves 6 to 8
You can use medium-grind cornmeal in place of the polenta; they are different names for the same thing. Don’t use instant polenta, however. You can substitute 1½ pounds of any fresh, wild mushrooms, such as oyster, for the white mushrooms (wild mushrooms tend to have more waste when trimming than white mushrooms).
8 cups water
2 cups medium-grind polenta
2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallot
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (2 cups)
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine water, polenta, salt, and pepper in 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Transfer dish to oven and bake, uncovered, until water is absorbed and polenta has thickened, about 60 minutes.
2. After 45 minutes, heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook until liquid is released and mushrooms begin to brown, 5 to 8 minutes, adjusting heat to ensure that shallot and garlic don’t burn. Add wine and cook until reduced to syrup, about 1 minute. Add broth and cook until reduced to 1/3 cup, 3 to 5 minutes. Off heat, swirl in 2 tablespoons butter and parsley.
3. Remove baking dish from oven and whisk Parmesan and remaining 4 tablespoons butter into polenta until smooth and creamy. Spoon mushroom mixture over polenta and serve.
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