I love experimenting in the kitchen. My latest experiment resulted in the creation of one of my new favorite side dishes, the polenta crostini. It is simple, versatile and strikingly elegant. Don’t you think so? I mean, if someone served this to me, I would gladly eat it and I would do so with a sheepish grin plastered onto my face. Thank you very much, I’ll have more please!
1/2 cup polenta, makes 6 squares
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
Drizzle of olive oil
Mascarpone cheese, dollop on each crostini
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
Fresh shaved parmesan cheese
Freshly cracked black pepper
Boil 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. When the water comes to a boil, add the bay leaf, olive oil and salt. In a steady stream, slowly whisk the polenta into the water. Constantly stir to ensure the polenta is smooth and does not clump. Keep stirring the polenta until it begins to pull away from the sides and has a porridge-like viscosity, about 15 minutes. Take a small ceramic or glass pan and wet the inside with water, but do not dry it. The water will keep the polenta from sticking to the pan. Transfer the polenta from the saucepan to the casserole dish. Spread it into an even layer. Set the dish aside and allow the polenta to cool. When the polenta is cooled, cut it into even squares.
* The dish shown is a double recipe
Remove the squares from the dish. This is where you can decide whether you want to grill the polenta squares or pan-fry them. If you crisp them in a pan, add a tablespoon of butter to the pan and brown the squares on both sides. I chose to grill them this time. Place them on the grill for a good 3 minutes on each side, until they are nice and crisp on the outside. Remove the polenta from the grill and set aside.
In a separate saucepan, melt butter and add the chopped shallot. Cook on medium until the shallot softens, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pan. Salt and pepper the mushrooms and cook for about 8 minutes until the mushrooms are golden in color.
Top the polenta crostini with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and the wild mushroom mixture. Shave the parmesan cheese over the top and garnish with fresh parsley.
Baci e abbracci, XRISTINA MARIE
The Refined Palate
© 2011 Xristina Miros