04 October 2012

Wild Mushroom Stew on Creamy Polenta

This meal has all the Fall colors ... golden polenta, deep red sauce, smoky brown mushrooms and stew vegetables, deep green kale, and crispy brown bread for dipping.

Fall is here, folks! It seems that everywhere I turn there is a view that takes my breath away. Here is a view that I pass every time I drive over to the market ... it's just been lovely to see it develop as the cat tail reeds brown up and the swamp maples take on their reds and golds. Today's trip to the market was for coffee and mushrooms ...

Another almost meatless meal ... it seems that SB and I have been doing many more meatless dinners in our quest to cut some calories, live a bit simpler, and use our garden and local farmers' produce a bit more. I came across a post on Val's blog, More Than Burnt Toast and was inspired to make a dish honoring her monthly 'Cooking Light' Virtual Supper Club. We don't have supper clubs here in my little rural backwater, so Val's monthly themed event is probably the closest I'll ever get. This month's theme is 'Foraging for Mushrooms'. It IS the perfect time to whip out your recipes for mushroom soup, stuffed mushrooms, mushroom omelets, sauteed mushrooms, creamed mushrooms ...

I chose to do a little research on Cooking Light magazine's website and came across a beautiful Fall stew (recipe at the link) made with shitake, Crimini, and white mushrooms. The 'shrooms are roasted in a hot oven and then added to a tomato and broth-based sauce that is heavily herbed. Pictures of the dish show it served with a side of mashed potatoes, but I am opting to make a creamy cheesy polenta to have under the stew. A zingy gremolata is sprinkled over all and chunks of toasted rustic bread are placed on the side. In addition, we have kale growing beautifully in the backyard plot, so there will also be wilted kale in garlic and red pepper flakes for a bit of crunchy green. The only changes to this recipe were to add a few drops of a liquid smoke flavouring to a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, to use beef broth instead of a mushroom broth, and to increase the amount of shitake mushrooms by half.

A stellar dinner for a grey raw day ... pour the wine, light some candles and the cozy factor is taken care of! Here's to mushrooms and Fall and cooking (semi) light! I can't claim totally light, as that polenta is chock full of smoked Gouda and sour cream (light ... does that count?). Little steps, folks - little steps!

Creamy Polenta

Serves 4


1 ½ c. chicken broth
1 ½ c. 2% milk
1 c. coarse grind polenta (Bob's Red Mill makes a good grind)
1 ½ c. grated smoked Gouda cheese
1 c. low-fat sour cream
2 tbsp. butter
Pinch kosher salt
Black pepper
4 tbsp. snipped fresh chives
2 tbsp. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Making the Dish:

  1. Combine the chicken stock and milk in a deep heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Add the polenta and bring the heat up enough to boil gently, stirring constantly so that the polenta doesn’t stick to the pan. Cook about 4 minutes and then begin to taste for the proper consistency.
  3. When the polenta has just a bit of a bite, add the butter, cheese, and sour cream and stir to melt everything together.
  4. Stir in the herbs and add the salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Serve immediately.

An Aside - I brought my avocado tree in from the front yard, where it has spent the summer in a semi-shaded location. Apparently, there are hitchhikers ... I wonder if they knew I was thinking of making a mushroom dinner? I wonder if they're edible? I guess I'll continue to wonder, as they are just too cute right now to even contemplate harvesting ... for any reason!



  1. That is absolutely gorgeous - I remember having something like this cooked by a crazy Italian woman about 12 years ago. Beautiful photo - we just don't get colours like that here (or, at least, it's so windy the leaves disappear off the trees too quickly). Hope you have a cozy weekend!

  2. I enjoyed your colorful leaves photo. Love mushrooms and love your hitchhikers. It is tempting to perhaps put them into an omelet, but I have read too many stories about the evil side and damage some of the bad ones can do. Unless they are bought in a store or from someone knowledgeable or I find the spring morels in the woods as I did with my family as a young child, I just need to stay away from them.

    1. I'm with you Susan, although I have always wanted to apprentice myself to a knowledgable forager who could teach me the specific varieties that can be gathered safely! There's nothing like those dark woody flavours!

  3. so yummy!... I love mushrooms and to have them in a wonderful, warming, autumnal stew is sheer perfection... those autumn trees are stunning too... now as for that creamy polenta - I am hooked... what an excellent idea! Isn't the autumn just the best for this type of cooking... bring it on I say!

  4. There's no place prettier than N.E.in the Autumn! Your stew looks amazing too!

  5. I am glad to hear that you are joining out Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club! We are happy to have you along.
    This stew looks warm and comforting~ Great photos! Your blog is beautiful. I can't wait to settle in with a cup of coffee and get to know you better.
    Come by and visit too~

  6. I do so love looking at your food pix!

  7. Everyone's polenta always looks like it taste better than mine. I guess I haven't found a good recipe. I will be trying yours for sure. If I had a view like yours, I'd be going to the market every day. Gorgeous!

  8. That looks so delicious! I'm also very jealous of your polenta, it's never worked out well for me...

    1. I'll be honest ... I think polenta is best when it's embellished with plenty of gooey cheese, herbs to perk up the soft corn flavour, and ... salt. My doctor would kick me, but what can I say?


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