Creamy Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms and Caramelized Shallots
This is an easy, versatile and vegetarian dinner recipe that is both satisfying and comforting on a cold evening. The dish is a variety of mushrooms, shallots and garlic served over creamy Parmesan polenta. Polenta and grits are one in the same, which is essentially just coarse ground cornmeal. It’s something we should have in our pantry at all times! There are several types you can buy in the store, you can opt for pure polenta or cornmeal or choose a quick cook version like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Corn Grits. Don’t buy the stuff in a log.
You can customize the veggies with whatever you like, for example, butternut squash or cauliflower would be delicious too!
I was inspired by a restaurant I once worked for in Houston that had Shrimp and Grits on the menu. Turns out, most anything is delicious when served over a warm bowl of fluffy cheesy polenta!
- 1½ lb. mixed mushrooms (such as maitake, shiitake, oyster, king trumpet), cut into 1" pieces
- 4-6 shallots, cut off both ends, peel and leave whole
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus leaves for garnish
- 1 head garlic, cut in half
- The Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 cup polenta (fine ground organic cornmeal)
- 6oz. Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving
- 2 Tbsp. organic red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Place racks in upper and middle of oven; preheat to 400°. Combine mushrooms, thyme sprigs, and garlic cut side down on a large rimmed baking sheet. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper; drizzle with oil. Toss to coat mushrooms, then spread out in an even layer. (Make sure not to crowd the mushrooms on the baking sheet; otherwise, they’ll steam instead of getting crispy.) Transfer to upper rack in oven and roast the mushrooms until crispy and golden, about 30-45 minutes.
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch of kosher salt and whisk. Gradually add polenta, whisking constantly. (Gradually incorporating the polenta into the water is key to preventing clumps.) Return mixture to a simmer, and immediately cover pot. Whisk about every 5 minutes. If using raw fine ground cornmeal it will take about 55 minutes, if using quick it will take as little as 5 minutes depending on what polenta you use.
For the shallots, add 2 Tbsp. of butter in an ovenproof sauté pan, add the shallots and sugar, and toss to coat. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until the shallots start to brown. Add the vinegar, salt, and pepper and to coat the shallots.
Transfer the sauté pan to the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the shallots, until they are tender.
Once polenta has thickened and is tender, add 2 Tbsp. of butter and gradually add 4 oz. Parmesan or cheese of choice, whisking constantly until melted and incorporated; and season with more kosher salt and pepper as desired. Cover and keep warm over low heat until you’re ready to plate.
Divide polenta among warmed bowls and top with grated Parmesan, mushrooms, caramelized shallots, roasted garlic, thyme leaves and chopped parsley.
Optional: Drizzle with Argumato Italian Lemon Olive Oil for a delicious bright finish.
🍷 The Wine Pairing 🍷
Mushrooms are the meat of the earth and pair easily with a wide range of red wines. I like to pair a wine with savory notes and plenty of acidity, so for this dish we chose a Nebbiolo from the lesser-known region of Valtellina in northern Lombardy. Alfio Mozzio is a tiny producer just farming one plot known as Grisone in the Sassella cru of Valtellina. It pairs beautifully with the earthiness of the mushrooms and the sweetness of the shallots.
We have the 2013 of this wine in the store and the extra age adds to the earthy tones of the wine making this a seamless combination.