Before I prepared this dish, it was a very long time since I had used polenta in any recipe. I forgot how essential it is that you focus on it once it hits the water you cook it in. But the timings of this recipe work quite well, and you will notice that the mushrooms will be off the heat steaming for ten minutes while you give attention to the polenta.
Just to mention, the dried porcini mushrooms are unpleasantly smelly while being hydrated, but don’t worry, the garlic mushrooms and beluga lentils are very tasty. I loved this dish, and I still have half of the dried Porcini mushrooms and black garlic so that I can make it again soon. It is probably ideal for an autumn supper.
15g dried porcini mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
250g chestnut mushrooms, halved or quartered (depending on size)
3 black garlic cloves, sliced
15g unsalted butter
40g mature cheddar, finely grated (or a strong flavoured vegetarian cheese)
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped
250g pack cooked black beluga lentils
handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
TIP FROM LADY A
I often recommend preparing as much as possible before you begin cooking, but with this recipe it is essential. Once you start preparing the polenta, you will not be able to give attention to any other task. So weigh out the exact amounts you will need and slice/chop all the ingredients so they are ready to use.
Cover the porcini with boiling water (about 200ml) in a bowl and then set aside to soak for twenty minutes. (Be prepared – they are very stinky!)
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide pan then cook the shallots with a pinch of salt over a medium heat for seven minutes until tender and light golden.
Turn the heat up to high then add the chestnut mushrooms. Cook for three minutes without stirring. Add the sliced garlic and stir in 1 tbsp water. Cover and take off the heat; set aside to steam in the juices for ten minutes.
Meanwhile, bring 1 litre of water to a simmer; add a pinch of salt. Pour in the polenta in a steady stream then cook on a low heat for ten minutes, whisking all the time. Add the butter, cheese and rosemary; stir vigorously until smooth and combined. Season.
Stir the porcini and soaking liquor into the garlic mushrooms. Add the lentils and warm through over a low heat, and season to taste.
Serve with the polenta and a scattering of parsley.
If you do not like polenta, you could easily replace it with something else. My nephew Wills said he would have liked some buttery mashed potato. Personally, I thought the polenta was ideal, but it may be a matter of taste.