11 January 2013

Polenta con Formaggio Fuso e Funghi (Polenta with Melted Cheese & Mushrooms) and the Dolomites



Thinking of the Dolomites. Thinking of the mountains. Thinking of the fresh air.  Thinking of summer.  Thinking of the walks we do.  Thinking of the trails in the middle of trees and meadows or beside cliffs.  And most importantly, thinking of the food.

As a foodie, I cannot NOT arrive to the gastronomy. When I think of a place, I think of the sights and the food waiting for me to explore, examine and love or abandon.   


I have spent most of the initial weeks of my summers at the Dolomite mountains the past thirteen years, precisely right when I plopped down my life-long belongings on Italian soil when I officially moved here.  My husband is so in love with the place that he had to take me immediately to the only place in the world where he feels what life is all about.  It's all about the Dolomites. I shared his love and eventually, our dog and two kids found themselves their niches too.


If the first thing I eat at the Dolomites as soon as we set foot on the mountains is goulash with polenta and my son an impressive stinco di maiale (ham hocks) (my daughter still doesn't have a favorite plate), my husband's first take of mountain food is a good plate of polenta con formaggio fuso e funghi (polenta with melted local cheese and sauteed mushrooms). 




I have been cooking a lot of polenta and meat lately that are reminiscent of our favorite food at the mountains.  I thought that before I conclude my polenta series for now, I would make my husband's favorite plate. It's actually very simple to do. 


Let me share with you some more pictures of the Dolomites from the past summers we had.  I have already shared a lot of pictures of these mountains in the past posts but there are just too many to share. I keep on seeing new ones in my archive that I find interesting.  I hope you enjoy them.   



On polenta.  There are different kinds of polenta.  The one I like using is farina gialla per polenta (yellow flour for polenta) from the Dolomites that is not pre-cooked so it takes around 40 minutes or more to cook. The amount of water and salt also differs so please check your packaging on the suggested amount.  

If, however, you find the pre-cooked polenta bricks ready to be warmed up and eaten, you can also use them. Just slice to the desired thickness then grill. They are actually surprisingly good.  

Buon appetito e buon weekend!




Polenta con Formaggio Fuso e Funghi (Polenta with Melted Cheese & Mushrooms)

Ingredients:
Serves 4
  • 300 g. farina gialla per polenta (yellow flour for polenta)
  • 800 ml. water
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 250 g. scamorza affumicata (or any cheese that melts easily), sliced thinly
  • 400 g. pioppino or black poplar mushrooms (or other kinds of mushrooms)
  • 1 garlic, chopped finely
  • knob of butter
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • salt & pepper
Directions:
  1. Clean mushrooms by cutting the ends with attached dirt.  Put them in a colander and pass it under the tap very quickly (make sure that they don't get too wet), ruffling the contents with your hands to get rid of the dirt fast.  Dry with kitchen paper towel.
  2. Prepare the polenta by boiling water in a big pot, preferably copper.   When it's just about to boil, add salt then slowly add the polenta by pouring it slowly in the water.  While pouring the polenta, stir with a wooden spoon.  Keep on doing this until you finish the polenta.  Cook and keep on stirring for 40 minutes or follow the cooking time written in the instructions of the package of the polenta that you are using.  
  3. Transfer polenta in a rectangular baking pan with a thickness of about 2 cm. or about 3/4 of an inch (You don't need to be precise.).  Let it cool completely for about an hour.  
  4. Slice polenta to squares and grill them on a griddle.  Be careful in handling them so that they don't break.  Cook one side until crunchy.  
  5. Meanwhile, while grilling the polenta, prepare the mushrooms.  Sauté mushrooms in a saucepan with extra virgin olive oil.  Toss on medium fire for about 10 minutes or until cooked through.  Add garlic and cook until they start to color.  Add a knob of butter, tossing to coat mushrooms.  Season with salt & pepper and sprinkle with parsley.  Cover and keep warm.
  6. Go back to the polenta and turn them to cook the other side.  When you see that the polenta slices are almost cooked, distribute the sliced cheese on top. 
  7. When the cheese has completely melted, serve immediately with the mushrooms on the side or on the top of the polenta. 





15 comments:

  1. To me, there is nothing more comforting than polenta with mushrooms! I finished eating breakfast only 20 minutes ago, but if I had a plate of this in front of me, I would devour it even now!

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    1. One of my favorite combinations too Laura! And it's one of the reasons why I love alpine food.

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  2. I have to try your polenta with mushrooms and cheese-it looks just perfect for dinner!! I think your husband has chosen his favorite dish in the Dolomites very well ;-)

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    1. He always chooses the best dish Patty. I usually end up trying his choice and switching plates with him. :-)

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  3. One of my very favourite dishes, even tho' both mushrooms and cheese may have had to be of a different kind! Absolutely love your photos. Remember taking my daughters, about 7 & 9, to Europe for the first time. They hated leaving Venice. We were en route to Austria over the Dolomites. Well, it took an hour or two, but the 'feeling sorry' attitude seemed to dissipate when we got amongst the very friendly mountain scenery: 'Oh, Mom, look how pretty! Can we stop?' . . . .

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    1. My mom and sister did the same route too when they were touring Europe. From Austria to Italy, they passed through the Dolomites. My mom immediately fell in love with the mountain scenery and they stopped there for a short time. We took her back there for a longer stay when she came back to visit. Such a beautiful place really! I can imagine how many kinds of cheese and mushrooms can go well together. Do share when you try a good combination.

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  4. I just loved this recipe. Beautiful pictures and detailed recipe makes all your posts so special!
    http://cosmopolitancurrymania.blogspot.in/

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  5. This looks delicious! I really need to visit Italy really soon!

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    1. Thank you John! I hope you get to visit soon!

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  6. My husband has relatives in the Dolomite mountains and it is always a pleasure to visit there for the unspoilt beauty and that gorgeous turquoise water of the rivers.
    Polenta is a big favourite in our family.

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    1. Lucky you Suzanne! It's one of the best places to visit.

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  7. Rowena: I have just found your blog and become a follower. What a beautiful blog! I love your lively photography and of course, the food...Ah, the food!!! I am such a big fan of polenta (and everything else made of corn) that I could eat it by itself happily. The cheese and mushrooms are great complements. Ciao!

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    1. Hi Denise! I'm glad that you like my blog. I appreciate this very nice message. How I love corn too and of course polenta.

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  8. Oh how you made me long for the Dolomites and polenta, even though I just got back from skiing there two weeks ago and made polenta and mushrooms too (but with a little tomato in it) What beautiful photos - of the food and the scenery.

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Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I would love to know what you think!