The complete recipe this time. I swear.
There's a restaurant nearby called 518 West, which makes the best mushroom polenta appetizer. It's a few different mushrooms, rosemary and cashew butter, and romano cheese on a firm polenta. I love it. As usual, I had some things to use up and have made this version that satisfies my craving well enough. Enjoy!
1 cup white cornmeal
3 cups boiling water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 TSP salt
1/4 cup grated hard cheese (I used an aged French gruyere)
Bring to boil water, bouillon cube and salt. Whisk in cornmeal and lower heat to medium low. Add cheese. Let bubble for 15 minutes uncovered, stirring often. Pour out into a foil lined pan and let cool. Cut into squares. Reheat by baking, pan frying, or grilling.
1/2 white onion, diced small
1/4 pound proscuitto, diced about 1/2 inch (optional)
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced thin
1 TSP minced garlic
1 TSP each fresh thyme, sage, rosemary, chopped fine
1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed well and chopped
grated romano, for topping
Saute onion, prosciutto, herbs and garlic on medium high in combination of butter and oil, for about five minutes. Add mushrooms and saute for another five minutes. At this point add 1/2 TSP salt. Add spinach, cook until wilted. Drain well, discarding liquid.
When you add the cornmeal to the water, whisk hard. Whisk like your life depends on it. Add the cornmeal slowly and whisk hard! This will prevent lumps.
I didn't add a ton of seasoning to the water for the polenta since I want it to be more of a vehicle than the star. Add more seasoning, if you prefer.
I used white cornmeal because that's all the market had that wasn't self-rising. Here in The South where cornbread reigns supreme, it's really hard to find a non-self-rising cornmeal. Use what you can find, white or yellow. Heck, blue could be fun if you're making polenta for something else.
I recommend pouring the hot polenta into a square or rectangular foil lined dish. It make cutting easier later. However, you can use whatever pan you have available.
Because the prosciutto is salty, you don't need to add a lot of salt. Adding salt after sauteing the mushrooms for a few minutes will cause the mushrooms to release their liquid, which will deglaze the pan.
I prefer Knorr Vegetarian Vegetable bouillon. A lot of vegetable stocks are heavy on carrot, which I don't like. The Knorr has a nice balance of veggie flavors.
I like to buy the fresh herbs in the mixed packets. The one I used here is called "poultry blend" and is a mix of thyme, rosemary and sage. When cooking for one, I find it tough to use the whole herb packet before it goes bad. Except basil. I can put a hurtin' on some basil. I suppose I could grow my own, but with the kitten, I'd expect him to eat them before I could use them.