Some people like clothes or shoes or art, etc. My weaknesses, without a doubt, are food and kitchen-related stuff/ingredients. I have a
So, when I walked past a beautiful assortment of mushrooms the other day, I admired them and then moved on (trying to show a wee bit of restraint). Not long thereafter, I heard this nagging voice in the back of my head, you know you want some. I do, but I shouldn't spend the money. But, they look so good and there are yellow ones, and pink ones...not something you see everyday. I must have them.
I just couldn't resist. Mushrooms are freakin' fantastic and worth celebrating; thus, I entitled this post A Festival of Fungi.
Normally, I'm happy with mushrooms prepared simply, that is to say sauteed in a skillet with butter and/or olive oil, fresh herbs, and salt and pepper. I like when the mushrooms get a little browned and crispy around the edges. Nevertheless, wanted to do something a little more interesting for you. I tossed around a few ideas but finally settled on a mixed mushroom ragù with crispy polenta cakes. Straightforward, classic, rustic -- in a way that showcases the mushrooms.
You could use any variety of mushroom to make this ragù. Choose your favorite mushroom(s).
I used a combination of yellow and red oyster mushrooms, king oyster (aka king trumpet), maitake (aka hen of the woods), portobello, cremini (aka baby portobello), and another variety (long white ones that look like enoki?). Hard to go wrong when it comes to mushrooms. I love them all; oysters might be my favorite. Or maybe maitakes. Or, perhaps, lion's mane mushrooms (my latest discovery). Hard to choose just one. Best to enjoy them all.
I served the mushroom ragù over crispy polenta cakes. You could also serve the mushrooms over creamy polenta, spaghetti/linguini, or crostini.
You could use mushroom stock or chicken stock for the mushroom ragù. I made a batch of chicken stock the other day using chicken feet, aromatics, and lots of herbs. It was my first time using chicken feet to make stock and I have to say they make really great stock. For starters, chicken feet are inexpensive ($1.99 per pound). Moreover, chicken feet have lots of bones and cartilage, which result in a flavorful, gelatinous stock. The chicken feet I bought came already cleaned, so from there it's just like making any other chicken stock; toss everything in a stock pot and let it simmer away.
For my NYC friends, Farmer Ground is a great local source for polenta (along with other flours).
When it comes to polenta, you need to stir it for a good hour during the cooking process, which I suspect might deter a few of you. Don't let this dissuade you. Think of it as an upper arm workout minus the trek to the gym; who am I kidding, I don't go to the gym :-)