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Good Fungi! – Local Mushrooms for a Winter Feast!

Now that our co-ops offer such a wide variety of locally grown fungi, try

using a mix of mushrooms in any of your favorite mushroom recipes -- portabellas,

shiitake, large-stem oyster, lion’s manes, chantrelle, porcini, and others – from our

organic mushroom farmers -- Mississippi Mushrooms, Cherry Tree Mushrooms, and

Forest Mushrooms.

Store mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator. Avoid plastic bags or

containers that trap in moisture and make mushrooms soggy, expediting decay. The

big debate when preparing mushrooms is whether or not to rinse before cooking.

They are like sponges, sucking up water, which makes them difficult to sauté and

brown. It’s best to clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel, or dust off the dirt

and grit with a pastry brush. When sautéing mushrooms, don’t overcrowd the pan.

You want enough room for the liquid to evaporate so they don’t steam.

Polenta with mushroom duxelles makes a wonderful meal; but the two

components are terrific in other dishes as well. So, double the recipes to enjoy now

and again on another day.

Polenta (the easy way)

Serves 4 to 6 (easily doubled)

You can double this recipe to have leftover polenta. Just spread it in a pan to

store in the refrigerator, covered for four to five days, so that it’s ready to cut into
cakes or triangles. If you don’t have time for the mushroom duxelle, simply top the

polenta with a little butter and grated sharp cheese.

1 cups coarse ground polenta

2 teaspoons salt

1 quart water

2 tablespoons butter

Fill the bottom half of a double boiler, or a large pot, with 4 to 6 inches of

water and set over medium-low heat to bring to a simmer.

In the top pot of a double boiler, or a smaller pot, stir together the polenta,

salt, and water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir and then remove this pot

and set into the larger pot of simmering water. Cover the polenta and cook, and stir

once or twice, until smooth, shiny, and slightly sweet, about 1-1/4 hours. Taste for

doneness, if it’s a bit bitter, cover and continue to cook.

To make the polenta cakes: turn the polenta into a baking dish or pan and

spread to ½-inch thick. Using a round biscuit cutter or juice glass, cut rounds of the

polenta for patties. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the cakes

until nicely browned, about 4 to 6 minutes per side.

Mushroom Duxelles

Serves 4 to 6 (easily doubled)

I’ve taken some liberties with the classic duxelles recipe by adding tomato

paste for color and a splash of wine for tang. Duxelle will store for about a week in

the refrigerator and in the freezer for three months.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup finely chopped shallot

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 pound assorted mushrooms (shiitake, cremini, Portobello, etc), stem ends

trimmed, and finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

2 tablespoons tomato paste

¼ cup dry white wine

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté in the

shallot, garlic, mushrooms and thyme. Stir as the mushrooms release their juices

and continue stirring until the pan becomes slightly dry, about 7 to 10 minutes. Stir

in the tomato paste and cook until it begins to brown slightly, about 1 minute. Stir

in the wine, scraping up any of the bits that have clung to the pan, and cook until the

liquid has reduced to a glaze. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over the