Make it. Eat it. Love it.
I have a crush on polenta. That cornmeal that hides in the back of most pantries and becomes a big pot of mush when cooked. To me this mush is total comfort food. Even though to most people polenta is a winter food that warms your belly when the temperature drops, I am not a fair weather lover and it graces my dinner table at least twice a week even in these warm summer months. Besides being super easy to make polenta can be the base for a variety of different dishes, can be eaten hot and creamy or crisp with a salad. It can be used in place of breadcrumbs and can even be baked into cakes. Who wouldn’t have a crush on something so diverse and delicious?
I also have a crush a bit more refined then polenta. Truffles. No, not the chocolate kind (though I kinda have a crush on them too) the fruiting body of an underground mushroom kind that can only be found by the help of animals. The ridiculously expensive kind. The strong aromatic and earthy kind. The kind that is sliced thin and eaten raw with foie gras, steaming buttered pasta, cheeses or meat. The truffle I fell in love with while dining at Le Bernardin in NYC so many years ago. Since truffles are a bit too much money for me to buy and I am not very qualified to go truffle hunting I must use the next best thing, truffle oil. Though not exactly the same as a fresh shaved truffle slice, truffle oil does fine as a stand in.
Last year Katherine and I went to the Jerusalem food festival and while it was a complete and total bust it ended with a unexpected visit to my now most favorite restaurant in Israel, Mahaneyuda. Aside from having some of the best food I have had the pleasure of eating in this wonderful country, it may be the most fun dining experience ever. Seriously, they blast music and dance around and sing. The kitchen is open to the restaurant and the cooks bang on pans like drums. Oh and they give you a free shot of Arak while you wait for your table. Their creamy polenta with truffled mushrooms with it’s delicate smoothness and earthy tones made me swoon and made me and Katherine size each other up over who would get the last bite (ugh who’s idea was it to share anyway?)
This is my version of Mahaneyuda’s fabulous creamy polenta with truffled mushrooms. I even served it in a jar like they did because I want to be awesome like them.
1 cup polenta
2 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces of mushrooms (any kind you like), sliced
1 shallot, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
truffle oil to taste
For polenta: In a saucepan heat milk over medium heat until just boiling.
Remove pot from flame and slowly add polenta while stirring.
Return pan to flame and cook covered for about 45 minutes, stirring regularly.
When polenta is done cooking and is creamy, stir in butter and parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
For mushrooms: Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Add shallots and saute until golden.
Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms release their juices.
Add chicken broth and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
Drizzle mushrooms with truffle oil.
Serve over creamy polenta.