Thursday, April 14, 2011

Polenta with Chard and Mushrooms

On occasion, I have an incredible cooking day. I not only make a supper everyone loves, but I make lunch for myself too. The lunches are generally just for me. My kids are happy with peanut butter and jelly, fresh fruit, and fresh veggies for lunch so I tend to take that route. For me though, sometimes some cooked, veggie-based meal is called for.

Curtis has needed to travel a lot for work in the past 9 months. Granted, I have many friends whose husbands travel a lot more than mine, but for us, it's a lot. (Curtis never used to travel at all, so the approximate once a month trips seem like a lot). Usually, I take it all in stride, but sometimes I find myself exhausted and in need of some grown-up comfort food. When I found this recipe online, I knew I had found my middle of the day comfort (after the kids are in bed comfort food almost always comes in the form of chocolate pudding, mini nutella cupcakes, or cowboy cookie bars).

I loved this recipe. I love polenta. I love, love shitake mushrooms. Yes, this was pure love. I don't have bets on my kids eating this. M loves mushrooms, but she prefers hers uncooks. Plus, the addition of chard makes it a little questionable as well, not to mention the polenta, which doesn't like at all. J and little I would probably be even less impressed than M. But for me, it's the perfect middle of the day, I need some beauty and happiness in my life meal. This is my happy meal. I don't even need a toy.

I was tempted to leave out the lemon juice because I was too impatient to take the time to squeeze/zest one. I am so thankful I didn't. This dish NEEDS the lemon juice, don't make the mistake I almost did. The lemon juice is as crucial as the mushrooms.

This will supposedly serve 2. Hmm....I'm not commenting on how many it actually served. :)

Polenta with Chard and Mushrooms
adapted from Hail's Kitchen

4 - 6 oz chard, stems removed and coarsely chopped
8 oz mushrooms, combination of button, cremini, and/or shitakes
1/4 c onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 oz pancetta or bacon, diced (you could, hypothetically leave this out if you don't do pork)
1/4 c broth, either chicken or veggie
2 T dry white wine (optional)
1/2 T olive oil
1/2 T butter
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/2 t salt or to taste
dash of pepper, or to taste
1/4 c polenta
1 c water

Bring 1 c water to a boil in a small saucepan.

While the water comes to boil, cook the pancetta in a large skillet over medium high heat until it is crispy. Remove and set aside. Saute the onions and garlic in the same skillet for 2 minutes. Add the olive oil, butter, and mushrooms. Stir well to combine and then cook for a couple of minutes without stirring. Then stir the mushrooms well again and allow to cook undisturbed a few more minutes, or until the mushrooms have released all their juices. Add the wine to the pan and cook until all the liquid is evaporated. Remove the mushroom mixture from the pan.

Once the water boils, add the polenta and cook, stirring frequently until the polenta is thickened (how thick you want it is up to you). Meanwhile, add the chard to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the chard is wilted. Once the chard has wilted, return the mushroom mixture to the pan, along with the broth. Allow the broth to reduce and the chard to soften. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasonings as necessary. Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice and zest and thyme. Serve immediately over hot polenta.

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