The past few weeks, every time I land on Food network while surfing through channels, all I see is one of the chefs taking apart a turkey or cooking squash or baking a green bean casserole or potato gratin or well, discussing stuffings and dressings these days! Should it be corn bread or sour dough or muffins they ask ? The first few times I watched them to get to know the traditional fare, but now I simply change channels, its too boring now. But you guys don't have that option here as I share this recipe for a mushroom gravy adorning my new found fav, polenta!
I used to eat mushrooms quite often, my mom cooked them at home in Hyd too. When I got here most places that carry vegetarian options use mushrooms as a meat substitute. But somewhere along the line I developed an allergy of sorts. I would get a really bad stomach ache whenever I had mushrooms. I did not know which kind was causing it and did not want to experiment either. 'No meat, no eggs' then became, 'no meat, no eggs, no mushrooms', you can imagine how weird that gets when I have to order!! And I like mushrooms, so it was even more difficult to avoid them. So now I've finally started doing tiny trials, I buy a small batch of mushrooms and cook them at home to on a Friday or Sat night (so I have time to recuperate :D) Button mushrooms and baby bellas are now off the list, yayy! And this is one of the dishes I made,
Ingredients:The extent to which you allow the flour to brown will effect the flavor and color of your gravy. Don't go too far for this one, a slight browning will do, the gravy gets it final dark color from the onions and mushrooms.
- 10-12 - baby portabellos (or any assortment of mushrooms shud work)
- 1/2 cup - sliced Onions
- 1/8 tsp - dried Rosemary
- 1/8 tsp - dried Thyme
- 2 tsp - Olive oil
- 1 tsp - butter
- 1 tsp - all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup - milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add the sliced onions. Sprinkle some salt over them and let the soften and caramelize gently.
- Add the dried herbs and sliced mushrooms next and spread them in a even layer, trying to get all of them to be in contact with the pan's surface. Cook for 2-3mins, turn them around and cook for an additional 2-3 mins so they brown evenly on both sides. Salt them at this stage, adding salt beforehand brings out the water and ends up steaming them instead of browning them.
- In the meantime warm the milk in a microwave. Move the browned mushrooms and onions to a corner of the pan, add butter and, as it melts sprinkle the flour and stir well. Cook for a minute until the flour gives out a nutty aroma and slightly changes color.
- Slowly add the warm milk, stirring continuously to avoid lumps and blend with the veggies. You do not have to use up the entire amount of milk, stop when it reaches a consistency you like. Grind some pepper and check for salt. Simmer the gravy for a 1-2mins allowing it to thicken and transfer it to a serving bowl (it will continue to thicken in the residual heat in the pan otherwise)
- Spoon it over some pan-crisped polenta and enjoy!
Doesn't that look elegant ? And it took me about 15-20mins tops! The earthiness of the sauteed mushrooms accentuated by rosemary and thyme was fantastic. And the slight sweetness from the caramelized onions is delicious. I am sure you are going to finish some off right from the pan. I reserved some of the onions and mushrooms mix before making the gravy and used them as a pizza topping, yummy! You could also use it along with the gravy as a white sauce base. Paired with the crisp polenta though, this mushroom gravy was a perfect meal, filling and extremely flavorful.
For the polenta, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a deep bottomed saucepan since the polenta has a tendency to bubble violently as it cooks, so be extremely cautious. Salt the water and add spices/herbs if you choose, I used red chilli flakes. Gradually add 1 cup corn meal/polenta and stir continuously, cooking on medium heat. As it cooks and thickens add 1/2 cup of warm milk to make it extra creamy, you could also add a pat of butter or drizzle some olive oil at this stage, but stirring all the time. When the polenta starts to move away from the sides of the pan, its your hint that its done. The cornmeal should be soft to touch without a raw interior. Transfer it onto a plate and spread evenly. When cooled it will firm up and you should be able to easily slice it. This gives me a 10" dia, 1/2" thick round of polenta. For creamy polenta, add a little extra milk/cream/water and cook for the same amount of time.
To serve crisp, add a few drops of oil to a saute pan, and crisp the polenta slices on both sides, about 3mins each side. I tried broiling the pieces instead but did not like the end product. You can store the unused polenta in the fridge wrapped in foil or in the air tight container for a few days.