Polenta (cornmeal) is a traditional staple food throughout much of northern Italy and started out as peasant food. Today it is much sought after and can command high prices when ordering in a restaurant. The blue cheese in this dish adds a bit of bite to an otherwise bland dish. This recipe is adapted from Australian Good Taste magazine. Mushrooms are an excellent source of B vitamins (B2, B5, B3) and in the past it was the specialty mushrooms such as Shiitake, Maitake, and Reishi that were heralded as natural ways for cancer research. However, the common button mushrooms (including crimini) have been shown to have anticancer properties as well. For more health benefits on the mighty mushroom, click here.
1L (4 cups) chicken stock
750ml (3 cups) milk
340g (2 cups) polenta
70g (1 cup) Parmesan
100g Gorgonzola or creamy blue cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
80ml (1/3 cup) balsamic glaze
60g baby rocket
Place the stock and milk in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil over high heat. Gradually add the polenta in a thin steady stream, stirring constantly until well combined. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook stirring frequently, for 35 minutes or until the polenta is soft and creamy. Stir in the Parmesan and half the Gorgonzola cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add half the mushroom and cook 4-5 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. repeat with the remaining oil and mushroom. Return mushroom, along with garlic and thyme to the frying pan and cook, stirring 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add balsamic glaze and cook stirring 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Divide the polenta among serving plates. Top with the mushroom mixture and scatter with the remaining Gorgonzola or blue cheese. Top with rocket and serve.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: This was heavenly! I love the flavors of the Gorgonzola and the sweet balsamic over the polenta. Great combination! If you use instant polenta, the time is cut by about 20 minutes so plan carefully. Enjoy this with a glass of Chardonnay (buttery), Pinot Noir or Merlot (especially New World wine).