Monday, July 22, 2013

Ours For The Taking

Three days into our stay here in PGH, The Husband and I went to the grocery store. First, I must say how amazed I am at some of the produce we get here. We purchased zucchini, squash and cucumbers that were the size (both length AND width) of The Husband's forearms for nothing--ninety-nine cents! Beautiful tomatoes and peppers for a song. They have a whole mushroom section, literally bins of Wild Mushrooms for the taking.  I forgot that Pennsylvania has the Mushroom capital of the country within it's boarders; lucky for us. And so, on our first trip to the store, we took.

We ended up purchasing a beautiful Hen of the Woods to do something with.  A week later, I found myself back in the grocery store, standing in front of this mushroom wall and thinking, I need more. So I grabbed a bunch of Oysters, some Chanterelles, another Hen of the Woods, some Trumpet Mushrooms and a few other wild varieties.

So I had all of these great mushrooms, I needed to do something delicious with them.  

What I ended up doing is more of a fall dish, it would be amazing on a crisp October night. However, I wasn't waiting until fall, I had my mushrooms now. So I figured I'd suffer through all of the cooking heat in my nonair-conditioned kitchen and I must say, it was worth the sweat. And I should tell you, there was a whole lot of sweat with this one. Three burners going, lots of grating, but it smelled heavenly. Totally worth the 90 degree heat in there.

For those of you who also lack central air, if you can wait until the temperature dips, I would. If you're dedicated to the cause like I am, just be prepared to shower before you eat.


1 1/2 Cup Polenta (don’t use the instant kind)
1 Bunch Rainbow Chard, tough stems removed but keep the leaves as close to whole as you can
2  Fresh Rosemary Sprig, the biggest ones you can get
1 TBS Olive Oil
4 TBS Unsalted Butter
2 Large Shallots, minced
1 Cup White Cheddar Cheese, Shredded (if you like it cheesy, have 1 ½ cups on hand)
 Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Box of Baby Kale
1LB Wild Mushrooms

Clean the mushrooms by soaking them in a bath of 4 cups water, 1 TSP salt for 10 minutes. Strain out the water, and then repeat once more. When your mushrooms are cleaned, if they are too large, break them up into smaller pieces. I’d recommend using your hands, rather than a knife.

Bring two pots of water to a boil. Fill one large pot of water half way up and boil. The, for the second, use a large saucepan and fill it with bring 8 cups water and a dash of salt; bring this to a boil as well. In the saucepan with the 8 cups of water, add the polenta in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly; you don’t want to get it clumpy. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pan, 40-45 minutes.

In the large pot, add the rosemary spring and let it boil for a minute, until the room is fragrant, then add the chard; folding them to fit. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chard ribs are easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Then quickly add the Baby Kale in and turn off the heat. Let it sit for a few moments until the Baby Kale is wilted and stirred into the pot. Drain well and make sure you remove the two rosemary springs (although you won’t be able to remove the rosemary leaves, which is okay). Chop coarsely and squeeze dry. Set aside.

In a frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallots and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are tender, 8-10 minutes. Let them sit in the pan until the next step. 

When the polenta is ready, stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, ¾ Cup of the cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook until the butter and cheese have melted around five minutes. If you don’t think it’s cheesy enough (I like it on the cheesier side, add up to another ½ cup of cheese.

In the mushroom pan, add the chard/kale mix and mushrooms and cook, stirring, until hot and well coated with the juices. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the polenta into a bowl, top with the chard and mushrooms and those juices (don't forget them), and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and enjoy!

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