Watching the Olympics has become a sport in itself. We all have our favorites, but I personally love short track skating, the halfpipe and ski cross- a new event... like motor cross on skis. And after watching skiers whipping over moguls in several events, I figure the orthopedists of the world will be very busy people.
No matter which sport you like to watch, you can't help but be impressed by all the world's atheletes. (Well, maybe not the South Korean short track skaters. And maybe not the Russian skater who thought he deserved gold.) I do, however, get annoyed with NBC and the events they choose to air. Why oh why was the U.S. vs Canada hockey game on MSNBC?? Was this not considered an important matching? Forget than I am an old Red Wings fan. Was I the only one who wanted to see this on NBC in prime time? At the very least, half of it. Every Olympics I gripe about this stuff. Probably we all do.
Anyway, I didn't want to be in the kitchen cooking last night so I dug around in my file to find something that sounded good, not too heavy, something I had never tried and of course something I could tell you about if it turned out to be wonderful. And I chose a dish with mushrooms. I love 'em. My mushroom repertoire is extensive: mushroom bread pudding; mushroom pie; mushroom quiche; mushroom soup; mushroom studel. And is there anything better over a grilled steak? I even love a fresh mushroom salad.
I've had this recipe in my file for quite a while. I've seen other versions of it but still never got around to trying mine. It's a fabulous combo of polenta and mushrooms. With the Comte cheese I had left over from Thomas Keller's grilled cheese sandwich, I had everything I needed. So we had it for dinner last night while watching the Olympics. With a tossed salad, it's just right for a light supper. I made both the polenta (which has to be refrigerated anyway) and the mushrooms late morning and then all I had to do was reheat the mushrooms and briefly fry the polenta. The left-over mushrooms are going in my omelet for the next few mornings.
What Olympic events are you watching?
Mushroom Ragout on Crispy Polenta With Comté Cheese
Adapted from Bon Appetite, December 2007
For the Polenta:
2 cups whole milk
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup polenta or coarse cornmeal
Note: I used cornmeal. The original recipe called for 1 cup but it didn't get nearly thick enough so I made a second batch with 1-1/2 cups of coarse cornmeal and it was fine.
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated Comté cheese (or any gruyere)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
For the Mushroom Ragout:
3 tablespoons butter, divided
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1-1/2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms (such as oyster, crimini, and stemmed shiitake), thickly sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup low-salt chicken broth
1/3 cup crème fraîche or whipping cream
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/3 cup (packed) coarsely grated Comté cheese ( or any gruyere)
Generously butter a 13x9x1 inch baking sheet. Bring milk, broth, and bay leaf to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove saucepan from heat; cover and let steep 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Discard bay leaf. Bring liquid to boil. Gradually add polenta, whisking constantly until smooth. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until polenta is very thick, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Stir in Comté cheese and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer polenta to prepared 13x9x1-inch baking sheet. Using wet hands, press polenta evenly over sheet to edges. Chill until firm, at least 3 hours. Cut polenta into 20 squares. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons oil in large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add all mushrooms and sauté until tender and browned, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add shallots and balsamic vinegar; sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Season lightly to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Rewarm mushrooms in large skillet over medium-high heat until heated through. Add broth and simmer 1 minute. Stir in crème fraîche and half of parsley. Season mushroom ragout to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300°. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add polenta squares to skillet and cook until browned, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in oven while cooking remaining polenta squares.
Arrange 2 polenta squares on each plate. Top each with warm mushroom ragout; sprinkle with grated Comté cheese and remaining parsley and serve.