I’ve always been a polenta fan. This is my favorite, effortless oven polenta with mushrooms that takes all the work out of making this hearty favorite. But when you break it down, polenta is nothing more than coarsely ground cornmeal. Served as a hot porridge-style dish, or cooled and cut which can than be baked, fried, or grilled. But in northern Italy, polenta is considered a dish, not just an ingredient.
Our ancestors have actually been eating polenta-style dishes for centuries. Originally made with other grains such as: farro, chestnuts, millet, spelt or even chickpeas, it was not until the 16th century that yellow corn meal began being used.
Polenta often gets confused with another favorite of mine, grits. But polenta is made from a corn variety that grows in Italy known as flint corn. It holds its shape better than the Southern US corn used for grits, which is called dent corn. Most noteworthy, grits come out mushier side while polenta is generally a little coarser.
What I love most about polenta is its versatility, although polenta with mushrooms is a favorite of mine, the possibilities are endless. Cooked cornmeal can be eaten as a side or used in a variety of recipes, from bread to desserts and can be served warm or chilled. Above all, when cooking with any kind of polenta is it important to know that finer grinds make a soft polenta, while coarse grinds make a firm polenta.
Polenta is a great naturally gluten free alternative to wheat-based foods. Despite what one may think, polenta is actually a low carbohydrate food containing only 15 grams of carbs in a 3 1/2-ounce portion. Above all, polenta is also rich in vitamin A and C making it a good source of the carotenoids.
The traditional method of making polenta involves stirring it in a pot for about 40 to 50 minutes, which can be time-consuming. In my recipe the polenta is started stovetop, but finished in the oven making it substantially less time-consuming. Topped with some roasted wild mushrooms and thyme, this lovely dish works perfectly as entree, which you can substitute vegetable stock to make it vegetarian or or as a side dish to just about any meat or fish.
Oven Polenta With Mushrooms
- 1 pound mixed mushrooms, crimini and shiitake (or similar), sliced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed
- kosher salt
- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
- 4 1/4 cups chicken stock
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup polenta (or medium or coarsely ground cornmeal)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Step 2 Place the mushrooms, thyme and garlic on a baking sheet. Season generously with salt and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Using your hands, toss well to coat. Make sure to spread the mushrooms out evenly. Place the mushrooms on the upper shelf of the oven and bake while you prep the polenta.
- Step 3 In a medium saucepan add the chicken stock, place over high heat. Add the butter and some salt and bring to a boil.
- Step 4 Once boiling, slowly add the polenta while whisking to break up any clumps. Return to a boil. Cover, remove from the heat and place the polenta in the oven. Stir the mushrooms and bake for 30 minutes.
- Step 5 Remove the polenta from the oven. Whisk the polenta until smooth. Add the Parmesan cheese and whisk well until incorporated. Just the seasoning as needed.
- Step 6 Place the polenta into a serving bowl. Remove the mushrooms, toss with the additional tablespoon of olive oil and place on top of the polenta. Serve immediately.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin