Mixed mushroom and ruby chard ragout with creamy polenta

This time of year is perfect to celebrate the mushroom. Love it or hate it, there are so many varieties to try and choose from to embrace the earthy delight before the wild mushroom season is over for another year! To make this recipe fully vegetarian then you can substitute the cheeses with vegetarian alternatives or leave them out if you prefer.

Remember that a mushroom is a delicate thing so be gentle when cleaning them; simply wipe any dirt using a piece of kitchen roll. I have used field, chestnut and porcini mushrooms here but get creative and try different mixes.

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Ingredients- serves 2
For the ragout:
Handful of dried porcini mushrooms- rehydrated
15g unsalted butter
1 shallot- finely sliced
1 garlic clove- crushed
3 sprigs of thyme
250g field mushrooms
100g chestnut mushrooms
60ml red wine
60ml vegetable stock
5-6 stems of chard- stems separated from the leaves and halved
50g Taleggio cheese or similar- optional

For the polenta:
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
125g instant polenta
25g butter
40g parmesan

1. Before you start soak the porcini mushrooms to rehydrate them and drain well and squeeze out any excess water. Keep hold of the liquid for – never throw this away, it has so much flavour. Heat the butter in a pan over a medium heat and cook the shallot until softened. Next pop in the garlic and thyme leaves and cook for a further minute.

2. Increase the heat and add the mushrooms and fry rapidly to remove the water from them; cook until soft. Add  the wine and bring to the boil for a minute before the stock goes in along with the porcini liquid. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the mushroom mix has thickened. A few minutes from the end add the chard to cook in the mushroom mix. Alternatively you could lightly steam the chard separately and then add in. Turn off the heat and leave to stand.

3. For the polenta choose an instant variety. Boil in a pan along with 250ml of water plus the thyme and bay according to the packet time. When ready remove the sprigs then pop in the butter and parmesan until smooth and creamy. Add a little more butter if needed.

5. When the polenta is ready, serve into bowls and create a crater in the middle of each bowlful into which you can spoon the mushroom ragout. Pop the Taleggio (or similar) slices or chunks on top and melt under the grill until oozing if you like but it is also great without cheese too. Alternatively you could stir the cheese through the warmed ragout if you prefer.

Mushroom ragout- a seasonal celebration of the humble ‘shroom!

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