I was staying with friends in Italy this week and whilst shopping for shoes (how typical…) we spotted a van parked by the side of the road selling nothing but porcini mushrooms. There were crates of them. Shoes were immediately forgotten and we got down to the serious business of mushroom picking which was far more enjoyable!
Now back in the UK I haven’t come across any porcini vans but now is the season for girolle and chanterelle and if your lucky you might find a few porcini too. The flavour of the mushrooms are so good I think its best to cook them as simply as possible; sautéed for a few minutes in olive oil then add some garlic, a knob of butter and parsley at the end.
I like to serve the mushrooms on fried polenta. The crisp outer layer of the polenta works so well with the soft mushrooms. Make sure that you season the polenta well with butter and parmesan before you grill or fry it. If you cannot get any wild mushrooms use a selection of large Portabello and oyster mushrooms.
1 cup of polenta (pre cooked)
2 cups water
500g wild mushrooms (girolle, chanterelle, porcini) carefully washed, drained on kitchen paper.
1 large clove garlic chopped
Handful of parsley, chopped
juice of half a lemon
100g Parmesan grated
Bring the water to boil then add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Lower the heat to a simmer and slowly add the polenta stirring with a whisk. Cook for 5 minutes until the polenta is quite thick then stir in the butter and half of the Parmesan. Check the seasoning and pour on to a large baking tray and spread out so its about 2cm thick. Leave to cool.
Cut wedges of the polenta and lightly brush with oil then cook on a very hot griddle till both sides are crisp and brown (about 3 minutes). Keep warm.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the mushrooms and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally till the mushrooms are cooked. Add the garlic and cook for another minute then remove from the heat and season and add the lemon and parsley. Place a slice or two of polenta on each plate and add the mushrooms. Sprinkle over the remaining parmesan and serve.