Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Everyday Yumminess: Soft Polenta Integrale with Wild Mushroom Ragout

I remember the first time I read through the Momofuku cookbook that David Chang says there's basically no point making polenta if you're not going to get your polenta from Anson Mills. In the next few weeks, I read several other chefs and authors saying the exact same thing, so I knew I'd better give it a try. The other day I was poking around their recipe pages and saw something that I really wanted to eat right now. Thus, it was on.The finished dish may not have been much to look at, but I already can't wait to make it again...
What you'll notice with all of the types of polenta and grits from Anson Mills is that they do not resemble the cheap polenta you see in your local supermarket. At all.
The Integrale is a rustic polenta, so the grind is fairly coarse and the resulting polenta has a great texture. I was very glad that I had a slow cooker, since the recipe page tells you "If you’ve got one, use it. If you don’t have one, get one. That’s how impressed we are with the slow cooker for grits and polenta. It is the simplest, most straightforward and gentlest method on the planet." Sold. The polenta and water go into a slow cooker for 90 minutes. When it's done, Parmesan, (Amish) butter, salt, and pepper are mixed in. That's it. Way better than sitting around stirring.
When I think mushrooms, I tend to think pork. And when I think pork anymore, I tend to think "brine" and "sous vide." I made a version of the pork brine from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home (using ingredients I had on-hand, since I forgot about making the brine when I was making my grocery list...).
The pork loin roast went in for... I wanna say 6 hours? I made this a couple weeks ago and am not the greatest at writing down what I do. Anyway, do it however Thomas Keller tells you to and it will be perfect.
When the brining process was done, I rinsed off the pork and vacuum-sealed it, ready to be cooked sous vide at around 140°F for around 5 hours. This turned out perfectly, but I realize now that I don't have any pictures of it. I was very tired by the time it finished cooking, and couldn't be bothered to do any more than slice it and put it on my plate with the rest of my meal...
The stars of the show are mushrooms. Delicious, delicious mushrooms. The recipe calls for 2 parts creminis to 1 part assorted wild mushrooms.
I'm a bit house-bound at the moment, so my wonderful friend Beth (who picks up greens for the rabbits almost every weekend) was in charge of picking up my "assorted wild mushrooms" at Russo's. She sent pictures from her phone and I was like "Ooh! Those!" Not the most efficient process, I suppose, but I ended up with a really nice pile of mushrooms as a result. (Thanks, Beth!)
The creminis go into the pan to brown first...
Followed by shallot, garlic, and the wild mushrooms.
Meanwhile, you've started on the liquid component.
The cream is simmered until reduced by about half, then the Parmesan, nutmeg, and thyme are stirred in.
When the mushrooms are ready, the cream mixture is added..
Mmmm... Mushroom ragout... Also meanwhile, I blanched off some broccoli rabe. When the ragout, polenta, and pork were all ready, I sautéed it with a little garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, then chucked everything on the plate. (As I mentioned above, I didn't take a picture of the pork's perfection on it's own, so you'll just have to trust me that it is perfectly cooked under that yummy, yummy sauce.
So, as I suppose suits rustic polenta, this is a pretty rustic-looking dish... but it tastes un-freaking-believable. The tender pork, the mushrooms and thyme, the perfect polenta... The combination was total heaven. As a bonus, I was reminded how much I love broccoli rabe (which, honestly, I only bought so the plate wouldn't just be a vision in brown...). This will definitely be a winter/fall staple around here... at least for those days when the amount of cream involved doesn't scare me away... Judging from their picture, you could totally get away with using only creminis for a more budget-friendly version. It also looks like they reduced the cream further than I did, but I enjoyed having the ragout a little looser so I could get some on every bite of pork...

No comments: