Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mushroom'ed Polenta with Farmer's Cheese, Roasted Tomatoes and a Poached Egg

I first saw this recipe years ago on the cover of Bon Appetit magazine and have been wanting to make it ever since.  I had no idea what "farmer's cheese" was but it sure looked good, so when I saw it in my local grocery store for the first time, I knew it was time to make this.  This recipe take FOR-EV-ER so do it when you have some time and can study or read a book by the stove.  Because ya know what?  The "fast" recipes I found to make polenta didn't work so well, and I had to do it the old fashioned way--stirring very, very often (or you can outsource the dirty work to willing family members).

What you'll need:
1 cup course ground cornmeal (polenta)
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 pound any type of mushrooms
tomatoes (optional)
1 egg/person
1/4 pound farmers cheese
(serves about 4 for an entree)

Start by heating up the stock and then pouring the polenta in slowly and then STIR STIR STIR--do not let it get lumpy!  (dad helped out with that stirring!)  You can let it be for a few minutes at a time, but check on it frequently so it doesn't stick to the bottom or sides of your pan.

While the polenta is cooking, roast some tomatoes by cutting whatever type of tomatoes you like, drizzling olive oil on them and letting them hang out in the oven at 350 until everything else is ready.
Then, put the mushrooms in a pan on low heat, covered, until they are cooked through and have released their juices.

The polenta is done when it doesn't stick to the edges of the pan anymore.  This took me about an hour and fifteen minutes.  When done, add in the mushrooms and mix and then pour the polenta into bowls.
Top with crumbled farmer's cheese (turns out farmer's cheese tastes like mild goat cheese and is FABULOUS)

Add roasted tomatoes

Top with a poached egg!  If you are intimidated by poaching eggs, check out this helpful how-to video.

The yolk will ooze out and mix with the tangy cheese and sweet tomatoes.  You've got all the elements here--tangy, sweet, salty, creamy and it just works.  It is perfect comfort food, and one of the few vegetarian meals that I find hearty enough to be satisfying as an entree.

What do I do with extra polenta? 
Keep any leftover polenta in the fridge and the next day it will be hard enough to pan fry, and delicious enough to eat for breakfast.  Cut it into slices, fry an egg and top with avocado and cheese.  Enjoy!

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