Creamy Herbed Polenta with Mushrooms
A topping of garlicky, earthy mushrooms adds both texture and sharp flavor to creamy, soft polenta laced with sweet corn kernels. Because polenta cooks unattended in a slow cooker—there’s no need for the typical constant stirring—you can serve it alongside a main course that requires last-minute attention, such as grilled or panfried veal or lamb chops. Or, for a vegetarian main course, substitute the chicken stock with vegetable stock and serve the polenta with a green vegetable.
- 4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l) chicken stock
- 1 cup (7 oz./220 g) stone-ground polenta
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 3/4 lb. (375 g) cremini mushrooms, quartered
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 Tbs. minced fresh oregano, plus more for garnish
- 2 Tbs. minced fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup (6 oz./185 g) fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
In a slow cooker, stir together the stock, polenta, 1 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper. Cover and cook on the low setting for 3 to 3 1⁄2 hours, stirring two or three times if possible. The liquid should be absorbed and the polenta should be thick and soft and no longer gritty.
About 10 minutes before the polenta is ready, in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the shallot and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender and their liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and parsley, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute more.
About 5 minutes before the polenta is ready, stir in the oregano, thyme, Parmesan and corn kernels, then re-cover.
Spoon the polenta into warm shallow bowls or a serving bowl and top with the mushroom mixture. Garnish the polenta and mushrooms with more oregano and thyme and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The New Slow Cooker: Fresh Recipes for the Modern Cook, by Brigit Binns (Weldon Owen, 2010)