Roasted Mushrooms with Polenta: I could live off this meal forever!
The dish I made for you today will rock your ever-loving socks off!
I’m not saying any of this to toot my own horn, by the way. I’m saying it because its true. The first time I ever tried this dish, I was at YaYa’s restaurant and I ordered it off the appetizer menu… I now dream about it on a regular basis. I go to YaYa’s for the sole purpose of ordering these mushrooms.
I HAD to figure out how to make these mushrooms!
So naturally, I HAD to go back to YaYa’s over and over again until I had eaten this dish enough to dissect it’s every component. Today was the day I made it myself, and I’m thrilled to death to be able to share my joy with you!! If you’re a mushroom-lover like me, just throw up your hands and surrender right now. If your a non-mushroom-lover (like my husband) then I daresay this dish will convert you. (It did him!)
Let’s make it!
Gather up a lovely slew of fresh ingredients!
You’ll need fresh sage. (I’m growing some in my garden this year… but this isn’t it. Mine’s only in the seedling stage, so this came from Kroger… my second home.)
And you’ll need thyme (and time… haha!) None of that dried stuff here, if you please. Save it for White Lasagna. Grab a few chives too. (Forgot to take a picture of the chives, oops.)
A leek. (Ever bought one of these? YUM. It’s in the onion family, but very subtle and delicious.)
And a couple boxes of your favorite varieties of mushrooms. For today’s purposes, I chose Shitakes and Baby Bellas. I don’t care what mushrooms you buy, just so long as they don’t come from a can!
Aside from the fresh stuff you’ll also need butter, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt n’ peppa, whole milk, water, sharp cheddar cheese, and cornmeal. But we’ll get to all that.
First things first.
Grab a few tablespoons of softened butter (the salted kind, if you please.) This will require you to set the butter out earlier in the day. It needs to be totally soft when you’re ready to start cooking.
Chop up all your fresh, yummy herbs! Make sure you have about 3-4 tablespoons of sage, 2 tablespoons of thyme, and about 2 teaspoons of chopped chives. Also, reserve a few of a smaller, prettier sage leaves. They’re going to be used as a very special garnish on the finished product. OH! I can almost taste it already 🙂
What we are doing here, folks, is making a fabulous little delight known as “compound butter.” It’s to-die-for. It’s simple, it’s delicious, it makes a great gift for foodie-friend-types! All it is… is butter with stuff mixed in it. It could be butter with cinnamon and honey… or butter mixed with truffle shavings (I die!), or an herb butter like the one we’re making, with sage, thyme, and chives.
Just mash up the butter with a fork and sprinkle in about a teaspoon of each of the herbs. You can use all of the chives.
Scoop it up out of the bowl with a little rubber spatula, and plop it onto a little sheet of plastic wrap.
Then wrap it tightly with the plastic wrap, shaping it as you go, until it forms a long cylinder.
Perfect! Now store it in the fridge until we need it. It will only get more and more delicious with time.
Next, wipe the mushrooms down to get rid of any dirt. (Shhhh… don’t tell Barefoot but most of the time I go ahead and rinse them. You’re not supposed to, but I try to minimize their time underwater so I figure its fine.)
Then slice them into nice thick slices. I leave the stems on.
If you have any really tiny, cute little mushrooms like these, leave them whole. They look really nice in the finished dish.
Now grab that gorgeous leek and lop off the white end.
(I bought two, but you’ll only need about half of one for this recipe.)
Slice the leek in half length-wise.
And place the long stalks into a big bowl of warmish water. This’ll loosen up all the dirt and sand particles hidden beneath the layers. The leeks will float and the gunk will sink to the bottom. You’ll notice I removed a few of the tough, outer leaves. Go ahead and do that too.
Now slice up the leeks on a diagonal (because its pretty!)
You should end up with a nice balance of the white and the green parts. I’d say you need about a cup or a cup and a half, depending on your preference. I like leeks, so this is more like TWO cups!
Now, toss all the mushrooms and leeks together on a sheet pan in a single layer. Resist the urge to crowd them, we want them to roast and brown nicely. If they look crowded, do what I did and grab a second sheet pan! (It’s a good idea to use the kind that have a lip around the edge… I learned that the hard way.)
Now, grab a bowl and a whisk and lets make a little marinade! Pour in some olive oil. (About 1/3 cup.)
Next, pour in a scant 1/4 cup of Balsamic Vinegar.
Whisk it up!
And sprinkle in the rest of your herbs.
The chopped sage…
…The chopped thyme…
…A good pinch of pepper…
…And two or three generous pinches of salt…
Whisk it again, and then pour about half of the marinade over the mushrooms and leeks. Save the other half for later.
Now use clean hands to toss it all together. Make sure every piece is nicely coated!
See? There’s no shame in dirtying up two sheet pans. It’s the right thing to do.
Now, fire up your oven to 400 and pop these sheet pans inside! Set the timer for about fifteen minutes, and then pull out a little frying pan. It’s time to make that very special garnish I was telling you about: crispy fried sage leaves. They are perfection.
Just cover the bottom of the frying pan in a little oil. This is a mixture of olive and canola.
Heat it up til you see smoke, then turn the heat down to medium and toss in the reserved sage leaves! Leave them in there for, like, ten seconds max! You want them to retain a little of their green color.
Quickly scoop them out and allow them to drain on a paper towel. We’ll use them in a few minutes.