My day started before dark today as it’s the best time for me to write. It’s quiet and it’s the only time of day I don’t get interrupted by the cute people in my household. My coffee tastes like ambrosia that time of the morning.
After a long day of carpooling, computers, girlies and gardens, I really didn’t feel like cooking anything for dinner and was considering pizza – of the takeout variety. I should also mention that I’m trying to not go to the grocery store until I use up the several hundred things that are in my pantry. Pizza seems like cheating within these parameters. I can’t tell if I’ve succeeded in going to the store for only milk, fruit and veggies more often or if I’m really moving items off my shelves. Meanwhile, the net result of this effort is that I’m pushed to be creative – which is always fun.
I had 12 shallots left from my garden harvest last fall and some fresh button mushrooms from one of those more frequent forays to the grocery store. They were actually intended for a Mushroom Duxelle with Scallions. I was thinking about stuffing a roasting chicken with it. But that might have to wait for another trip to the store now.
This silky, creamy sauce with the sweet notes of sherry in the background became an instant favorite. My older daughter made me promise to remember how to make it so that she could request it for her birthday next year. High praise indeed. Of course she’s a sucker for any thing with cream, cheese, pasta or polenta. I roasted the shallots on top of the stove and it did get a little smoky. It helped to cover the skillet with a lid and also helped to cook the shallots a little faster.
Roasted Shallots and Mushrooms in a Sherry Cream Sauce over Polenta
If the shallots are fairly big, then go ahead and cut them in half. Make sure the sherry you use is not the sweet, cream or cooking sort but a decent, dry drinking sherry. The rule of thumb with any alcohol going into a recipe is, if you wouldn’t drink it, you shouldn’t cook with it.
12 shallots, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 oz. button mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered
1/3 cup sherry
2/3 cup light cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the shallots and the oil. You want to cook the shallots until they are golden brown all over on the outside. If they begin to get a bit dark, reduce the heat some and cover the pan with a lid to help the inside cook a little more. When they are all roasty on the outside, add the mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook the mushrooms until they also begin to get brown. Add the sherry to the pan and reduce by half. Add the cream and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken. Serve with Parmesan cheese on top of polenta or fettucini.
1 cup medium-coarse or coarse cornmeal (preferably organic stoneground)
4 cups water, or 2 cups each water and milk
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 3 quart non-stick ovenproof skillet. Mix all the ingredients in the skillet and stir with a fork. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes (the mixture will separate and take more than half the cooking time to come together). Stir the polenta, taste, add salt if needed, and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven (remember that the WHOLE SKILLET IS HOT) and let the polenta rest in the pan for 5 minutes. (It’s a good practice to throw a thick hand towel or oven mitt over the handle to minimize the chance of badly burning your hand if you forget.) Cut into wedges and serve.
E says she’s just going to eat at our house from now on!
© 2008 Baggywrinkle Publishing