Polente aux Champignons

Corn Meal Mush with Mushroom Sauce

Polente comes from Italy (where it is called polenta). In Nice it is accompanied by good pork sausage, small wild birds, or vegetables. Americans, who are so used to eating corn meal in many interesting ways, may find plain polente rather dull, so I am giving the recipe for a mushroom sauce to go with it.

Ingredients

Polente

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups water
  • 10 tablespoons coarse corn meal

Mushroom Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 onions, minced
  • 3 fresh or 1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method

Add salt to the water in a heavy pot. When the water comes to a boil, slowly add the corn meal while stirring with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to medium and stir frequently for 25 to 30 minutes. It should be quite thick and detach itself from the sides of the pan. Pour it into a shallow dish oiled with peanut oil. When cool, cut into 2-inch squares

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté briskly for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the onions, tomatoes, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook for 5 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the squares of polente. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of grated Swiss cheese and bake for 15 minutes.

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