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Recipe: Polenta with wild mushrooms

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    Polenta, made from boiled cornmeal, is a staple of northern Italy and it can be as versatile as southern Italian pasta.

    It is often served hot like mash, with various toppings such as a good stew or a Bolognese sauce. However, it can also be moulded, then cut into squares and fried or grilled. The latter is the version I propose here, a recipe for polenta crostini served with wild mushrooms — a tasty seasonal delicacy.

    Preparation time 30 min. Serves 4-6 as starter or canapés

    Ingredients
    ● 500g pre-cooked packet polenta (maize meal)
    ● Approximately 2 litres water
    ● 1 tbsp sea salt
    ● 500g chestnut mushrooms or mixed wild mushrooms
    ● 40g dried porcini mushrooms
    ● 1 onion, finely chopped
    ● 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic
    ● Small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley
    ● Splash of white wine
    ● 6-7 tbsps of extra-virgin olive oil
    ● Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Method
    ● Cook the polenta according to packet instructions.
    ● Generally, bring 2 litres of water to the boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt per 500g of polenta. Once the water boils, slowly pour in the polenta and stir well with a whisk.
    ● Keep on stirring and cook for 3 minutes. By the end you should have a smooth consistency.
    ● Tip: for extra flavour, you can add some fresh herbs to the polenta while cooking, such as rosemary, sage, basil or thyme.
    ● Once the polenta is cooked, pour it into a large tray or flat surface and spread it so that it is 1 cm (½ inch) in thickness.
    ● Leave to cool and set.
    ● While the polenta cools, cook the mushrooms.
    ● Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in warm water for 10 minutes. Wash and slice the fresh mushrooms.
    ● Heat the oil and the onion in a non-stick frying pan. Leave to turn golden and add the garlic, half the parsley and some salt and pepper.
    ● Add a splash of white wine and after a minute add the fresh mushrooms.
    ● Stir well and after a few minutes add the porcini mushrooms.
    ● Cook for five minutes on a medium-high flame allowing any liquid to evaporate and the mushrooms to turn golden.
    ● Add the rest of the parsley, stir well and turn off the flame.
    ● Cut the set polenta into squares, triangles, rounds or finger sticks. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and when hot add the polenta.
    ● Shallow fry each side for a few minutes until golden.
    ● Remove from the pan and place a spoonful of mushrooms on top of each polenta crostino.
    ● Serve as canapés or as a starter.

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