Wild mushrooms on polenta

This simple and elegant dish is one of our favourite ways of showcasing a freshly foraged batch of wild mushrooms. Of course you should feel free to substitute shop bought mushrooms here. Only ever pick mushrooms you are 100% sure are edible.

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First job is sorting through the mushrooms and cutting out any bits that have a slightly too high maggot-to-mushroom ratio for your taste, wiping off any dirt and slicing as you like. We like to keep the little ones whole and slice bigger ones so that they keep their mushroomy shape.

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Here we have a selection of little ceps and boletus’, puffballs and beautiful little amethyst deceivers. Fry them all up in a little olive oil, garlic and butter with salt and plenty of black pepper. Set to one side on your stove to keep warm and get started on the polenta. I normally use a finely ground variety as I am the most impatient person on the planet but feel free to use a courser polenta if that is what you like to do. Just perhaps start cooking it before the mushrooms…

The basic rule for any polenta is one part polenta to four parts liquid (water/stock). Be aware that polenta swells up almost unbelievably so a small coffee cup will more than adequately feed two hungry adults. Put your liquid into a pot (I used freshly boiled water, a veg stock cube and some chilli flakes and rosemary) and bring to the boil. Add the polenta and whisk on a high heat until it starts to thicken. Turn down the heat and keep stirring until when you taste it, it is smooth and creamy, almost like mashed potatoes, rather than grainy. Add a generous knob of butter and some grated cheese. Check for seasoning and give it one last stir before pouring into bowls and topping with the oozy fried mushrooms. A sprinkling of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley does not go amiss here, nor does another fine grating of cheese. Enjoy! Liz x

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