Mill City Cooks

Grilled Polenta and Oyster Mushrooms

by Jeremy McAdams, Cherry Tree House Mushrooms

Serves 4

1–1 1⁄2 tbsp. coarse salt
1 2⁄3 cups polenta or course cornmeal (Sunrise Flour Mill)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (Valli dell’Etna Olio)
6-8 oz. oyster mushrooms (Cherry Tree House Mushrooms)
2 slices bacon (MN Valley Organics)
canola or other heat-tolerant oil as needed
1 small onion, diced (Dawn2Dusk Garden)
a little white wine or stock for deglazing
pepper to taste
about 1/2 a cup of cream
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (Stone’s Throw Urban Farm)
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese

Put salt into 7 cups cold water in a medium heavy pot. Add polenta and whisk in. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring often.  Add olive oil, then reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring often with a wooden spoon until polenta thickens and pulls away slightly from bottom and sides of pot, or between 20–40 minutes – depending on grind.

Pour into a wet ceramic or glass mold, cool, turn out, and cut into pieces with a wet knife. Grill on a very hot, dry grill or sear in a nonstick skillet until golden brown.

Oyster mushrooms and sauce

Fry up bacon until crisp.  Remove from pan and drain most but not all of the fat from the pan; cut bacon into small pieces. Saute onion until tender. Deglaze the pan with whatever liquid you choose and then let the liquid reduce to a shadow of its former self.

Trim mushroom stems and any dirty sections of mushroom caps.  Heat pan on high (for thin capped mushrooms) or medium (for firmer caps) with remaining bacon fat and add mushrooms, only enough that each mushroom cap has contact with the pan.  If pan gets dry add canola oil or other heat-tolerant oil.  Cook mushroom caps until slightly brown, or two to three minutes, then flip to other side.  Saute another couple of minutes and set aside.

Combine onions and mushrooms.  Add the pepper to taste, cream, garlic, bacon and cheese. Heat through thoroughly. Serve over polenta.

Variation: grille shiitake mushrooms after marinating them for a few hours in oil, a little vinegar or white wine, salt and pepper.  Chop half of grilled mushrooms and combine with other sauce ingredients, then top polenta and remaining mushrooms with sauce.

Oyster mushroom sauce recipe adapted from ReTorte food blog.  Polenta recipe reproduced from Saveur Magazine.

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