Polenta and Mushroom bake

I think I have persuaded Malcolm that polenta is delicious. This is a dish from Elizabeth David’s book, Italian Food. I’ve recorded what I did, rather than what is in the book. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 250g polenta
  • 1 litre of water
  • salt and pepper
  • Optional 200g fontina or talegio cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsps flour
  • 600 ml milk
  • 1 bayleaf
  • a grate or two of nutmeg
  • 40g grated cheese
  • 500g mushrooms
  • another 25g butter
  • 25g grated parmesan

METHOD:

  • Start by cooking the polenta. Set the water to boil, and when it starts to bubble, swirl it and pour in the polenta flour in a thin stream, stirring the mixture as you pour to mix it well with the water. As it becomes like the caldera in a volcano, season with salt and pepper, and cook for around 8 minutes.
  • Pour the polenta into a large dish and let it cool. If you are adding Talegio or Fontina cheese, melt this into the polenta before pouring it out. 
  • Make a white cheese sauce. Melt 50g butter in a pan, and then add the flour. 
  • When the flour is beginning to brown, and the butter is foaming, add the milk, pouring in steadily and mixing to make a smooth white sauce. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and add the bayleaf, and simmer for 15 minutes, before adding the grated cheese. 
  • Next, slice the mushrooms and fry in butter for 5 minutes. Elizabeth David suggests using white truffles, which are in short supply in South Uist. 
  • Slice the polenta. In the bottom of a buttered lasagne dish or similar, layer 1/3 of the polenta, then 1/3 of the bechamel and 1/2 of the mushrooms. Then 1/3 polenta, 1/3 sauce, 1/2 mushrooms, then 1/3 polenta, 1/3 bechamel, topped with parmesan. 
  • Bake in a hot oven, 180C, for 30 minutes. 

This is delicious, and very filling. We had 2 servings each and there is loads left. We had a side dish of steamed kale with pepper. 

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