Friday, December 30, 2016

Creamy Polenta with wild mushrooms

Copied from the LA Times.

1 pint heavy cream
1 quart milk
1 1/2 cups polenta, preferably from Grist & Toll
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (grated using a microplane and loosely packed)
Kosher sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Creamy Polenta with wild mushrooms
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 pound mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake, oyster and chanterelles
Kosher sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon thinly sliced garlic
Pinch red chile flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, preferably Pedro Ximénez
Prepared polenta

In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the cream and milk and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the polenta and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring every few minutes or so, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so the polenta does not burn. Cook the polenta until it is creamy, about 30 minutes, adding additional milk if the polenta thickens too quickly before it is tender. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for 20 to 30 minutes.

Whisk in the butter and grated cheese, then taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Creamy Polenta with wild mushrooms
In a large saute pan, heat the oil, butter and herbs over medium heat, cooking until the herbs are crisp and the butter begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper, or to taste. Toss, coating the mushrooms with the fat and increase the heat to high, cooking until the mushrooms brown a little, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium.

Make a well in the center of the pan and add the garlic and chile flakes. Stir the garlic until it is cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes, then combine it with the mushrooms. Add the wine and broth, then remove from heat and add the vinegar. Taste, adjusting the seasonings as desired.

To serve, fill a serving dish with polenta, then top with the mushrooms.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Porchetta (third time's a charm)

This is my third entry for a porchetta, this time basing it on a recipe from Honestly Yum for this past Thanksgiving. (I'm posting this here mainly to document the tweaks I made to the recipe, feel free to follow the link to see the original.) I paired a Becker Lane pork belly with a pork loin from Berkeley Bowl. Fantastic results, will definitely be doing this again soon.

1 rectangular slab of pork belly with skin on and 1 center-cut pork loin
2 tablespoons of fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of black pepper corns
2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
zest of one lemon
sea or kosher salt

Arugula-Parsley Gremolata:
2 cups of flat leaf parsley, packed
2 cups of arugula, packed
4 cloves of garlic, minced
zest of 1/2 a lemon
juice of one lemon
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea or kosher salt

The night prior to serving, marinate the meat. Toast the fennels seeds, peppercorns and red pepper flakes in a pan on medium-high heat until they are toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Keep them moving constantly to prevent them from burning. Allow the spices to cool and crush in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Mix in the garlic, rosemary and lemon zest.
Prep the meat by placing the skin side of the belly down on a large roasting pan or baking sheet. Prick the meat all over about 1/4 inch deep so the spices penetrate the meat. Flip the meat and score the skin by making cross marks. Don’t cut too deep, only slice the skin.
Using the smooth side of a meat mallet, tenderize the skin all over for about 3 minutes. Flip the belly, and spread 2/3 of the rosemary fennel seasoning all over. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of kosher or sea salt on this side.
Season the surface of the loin likewise and place it in the center of the belly then wrap the belly around the loin. Tie tightly with butcher’s twine in 1/2 inch intervals. Season the outside of the rolled meat with the remaining 1/3 of the rosemary-fennel seasoning. Place on a large plate and refrigerate uncovered overnight or up to 24 hours.

The next day take the porchetta out two hours before roasting. Leave it uncovered at room temperature for two hours blotting the roast with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Season the outside liberally with salt right before roasting. Preheat oven to 500 degrees, place the roast on a roasting rack and roast for 30 minutes. (Make sure your oven is very clean because at such high temps any food will leave your kitchen smokey!) Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and roast for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat registers to 145 degrees in the center. Remove the roast and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
Remove the string and carve into thin slices. Serve with arugula-parsley gremolata.

To make the gremolata, place garlic, parsley and arugula in a food processor and process until finely chopped.  Alternatively, you can mince all the ingredients with a knife. Transfer to a bowl and add lemon juice to the parsley arugula mixture. Add olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe made for an absolutely fabulous feast and left plenty of leftovers for sandwiches. Definitely a keeper in our kitchen!