Tip: Mushrooms and onions both caramelize a lot better if they are not salted. The salt causes the vegetables to begin releasing moisture, which leads to them steaming instead of caramelizing. Wait to salt them until you’ve achieved the desired degree of caramelization . If you’ve never used caramelized mushrooms or onions in a dish, I’d recommend trying it the next time you are making a dish with mushrooms or onions. When caramelized they become nutty, slightly sweet, and their flavors become concentrated. It’s delicious.
Last night I had planned to make a ham and mushroom spoonbread with a salad for dinner. Spoonbread is a souffle that has been helped along (weighed down?) by the addition of cornmeal. But Amy, I can hear you thinking, the picture doesn’t look anything like a souffle.
Spoonbread begins with a basic polenta, which is what I was in the process of making when I glanced at the clock. 7:05. Oh My God the Carolina Game started five minutes ago!!! Last night was the first televised game of the season and the spoonbread would just have to wait. I called for my husband to turn the tv on and the volume up and as soon as the polenta was done I dumped it into a cake pan and crammed it in the fridge.
So what began as a plan for spoonbread turned into spoonbread, deconstructed.
Also known as:
Pan-Seared Polenta with Mushrooms and Eggs
Dinner that can be made during halftime.
Rosemary Parmesan Polenta
2 3/4 cup of milk (I use 1%)
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 fat pinch of salt (about 1/4 tsp)
black pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar
3/4 cup of cornmeal (medium stone ground with the germ still on is best, but any will do.)
1 oz of good parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 c)
Bring milk, rosemary, salt, pepper, and sugar to a simmer over medium heat. When milk begins to bubble around the edges, whisk the polenta in in a slow stream (to avoid lumps). Stir constantly until thick and beginning to bubble, about 3 minutes.
Pour into a 9 inch round cake pan that has been lightly oiled. Refrigerate until set (at least 1 hour, but can be overnight).
Pan Sauteed Mushrooms and Ham
6 oz cremini mushrooms (can substitute any kind really)
1/4 of a small onion, diced
2 slices of good deli ham, cut into squares
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Wash the mushrooms. Using your hands, tear the mushrooms into roughly equally-sized pieces. (I like the rustic look this gives to the dish.) Add olive oil to a medium saute panandpre -heat pan (high/medium high heat). Once the pan is hot, add the mushrooms, ham, and onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add the rosemary and garlic. Cook for an addition 2-3 minutes until veggies are soft and lightly browned. Salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat.
To Assemble Dish
Cut the polenta into 6 wedges. In a very hot pan with a bit of olive oil, sear the polenta until it is brown and crispy on each side.
Make 1 or 2 eggs over medium per person.
Top the polenta with some of the mushroom mixture and an egg.
Salad with Oranges and Pomegranates
Note, I made the salad last night with butter lettuce and red butter lettuce because that is what I had on hand. The greens were a bit anemic for the salad, and it would have been better with arugala, spinach, or very robust mixed baby greens.
(enough for 2-4 lightly dressed salads)
2 Tbs orange juice
2 Tbs cider vinegar
2 Tbs good olive oil
pinch of salt
black pepper to taste.
Whisk the ingredients to combine. (Last night I also added a bit of rosemary to the salad.)
Toss whatever lettuce you are using in the vinaigrette. Top with pomegranate seeds and orange segments.
P.S. This would also make a fantastic brunch dish
P.P.S. Tune in later to see what I did with the rest of the polenta- it’s really exciting.