Thursday, January 8, 2009

Polenta Gratin with Mushrooms

Stolen from Epicurious, with a few adjustments. I love those polenta tubes--I can't imagine why anyone would make polenta from scratch for every single use. It's healthy as hell, and equally tasty, and those $2-3 tubes at the grocery store make an easy dinner. Normally I toss polenta with gorgonzola, parm, and pine nuts over the stove, but this is a great family-style recipe. It debuted at Christmas dinner this year, as an attempt to convince my mother (and possibly father) that they like polenta. At least on the former count, it worked. I made it again one week later for a dinner party, and one of the guests requested the recipe.

Polenta Gratin with Mushrooms

  • ACTIVE: 30 MIN
  • TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 15 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 8

Ingredients

  1. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 12 ounces sliced mixed wild mushrooms (5 cups)
  3. 1 large shallot, minced
  4. 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  5. Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  6. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  7. 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  8. 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  9. 3/4 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  10. 1/2 cup fat-free half and half
  11. One 18-ounce log of prepared polenta, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  12. 3 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1 cup)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the shallot and cook over moderately low heat for 3 minutes. Add the spinach, thyme and nutmeg and cook over high heat until the spinach has wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the spinach evenly in a 2-quart baking dish.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour over moderately high heat. Add the stock and cream and whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper and pour over the spinach. Arrange the polenta slices on top of the spinach in overlapping concentric circles, pressing to submerge the polenta slightly. Sprinkle the Gruyère on the polenta, cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Uncover the polenta and broil 6 inches from the heat for about 2 minutes, or until golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead

The unbaked gratin can be refrigerated overnight.

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