Author Notes: Don't worry... I didn't pressure cook the mushrooms (I made the polenta in the pressure cooker)!
This lasagna is layer, upon layer of decadent flavor. The polenta itself is infused with lemon thyme who's fresh bright flavor contrasts with the woody mushrooms and the salty , yet sweet, gorgonzola. For a surprising crunch, toasted pine nuts finish this dish. A change of pace from my usual recipes that are cooked 100% in the pressure cooker. Though without one, I would have spent all day making polenta instead of multi-tasking and sauteing while pressure cooking!
This recipe was a response to an invitation via the UK Food Blogger's Association, to which I am an honorary member, to participate in their seasonal cooking challenge. This was the first blogging event I had ever participated in and it really got me thinking creatively on how to use their list of required ingredients with, of course for me, the additional challenge of using the pressure cooker!
This recipe is a definite show-stopper for an Autumn dinner party. It is easy too, because you can do all of the prep work ahead of time, say in the morning, and simply turn on the oven to melt the cheese before serving. I have included lots of tips in this recipe that I often don't get a chance to share with you while pressure cooking including how to clean wild mushrooms and using the most flavorful part of parsley (it's not the leaves)!
- hip pressure cooking
Pressure Cooked Polenta
- 2 cups coarse Polenta Flour
- 8 cups Liquid (Broth or Water and salt)
- 1 bunch Lemon Thyme
- Oil the inside of small square, or round forms and set aside.
- Fill the pressure cooker with water and bring it to a boil on a high flame and add the salt. When the salt has melted, drizzle the polenta flour a little at a time while stirring clock-wise (you can choose any direction, but stick to it so that the poelnta flour does not glop together). Keep stirring until it begins to boil again - be careful because the polenta bubbles with spray polenta out of the pan!
- In the meantime, oil small square foClose the top quickly and when the pan goes up to pressure, lower the flame to minimum and count 8 minutes cooking time under HIGH presssure- do not walk away! The polenta could be ready anywhere between 5 and 15 minutes. Stay in the vicinity and as soon as you start smelling a little bit of burning, take the pan to your sink, release the pressure while running water on the top to open the pan immediately.
- Throw in the lemon thyme leaves and stir in.
- Pour the polenta into your forms and set aside to cool while you tackle the filling.
- TRADIONAL POLENTA COOKING METHOD: Use the same quantities stated, with a little extra water on hand. Instead of closing the lid and raising the heat, lower the heat and keep the top open stir constantly for 30-40 minutes to keep the polenta bubbles from "boiling" all over the place and the polenta from sticking (this is not risotto, you really do need to be there the whole time). You may need to add extra liquid during cooking since much is lost during evaporation to keep the polenta creamy. When the grain is no longer "gritty" but creamy the polenta is ready!
- INSTANT POLENTA: Follow traditional instructions above with package directions on quantity of liquid and cooking time!
- 1 pound Mixed Wild Mushrooms, cleaned
- 1 bunch Parsley, chopped leaves and stems separated
- 1/2 cup White Wine
- 1/2 cup Grana Padana Cheese, grated
- 8 ounces Gorgonzola Cheese (piccante)
- 2 ounces Pine Nuts, toasted
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- For the mushroom filling, delicately clean your wild mushrooms. Instead of just chopping the dirt-filled roots off, as you would with white button mushrooms, peel as little as you can of the outside flesh with dirt on it leaving the stem as intact as possible (the stem is flavorful as well). Depending on the size, either leave whole, slice in half or slice thinly to get all of the mushrooms to a similar size.
- Next, put a swirl of olive oil in a sautee' pan and add the finely chopped parsley stems (yes, they are more flavorful than the leaves but take a little longer to cook!) When the stems begin to sizzle add your mushrooms, salt and pepper and begin to soften and lightly brown them (about 10 minutes). When the mushrooms are close to finished, add the wine and fresh parsley leaves and delicately deglaze any yummy bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
- If your polenta has cooled enough to solidify, remove it from its form and firmly pull a sharp knife (without sawing back and forth) across the middle, horizontally, to slice.
- Now, you can begin layering your polenta "lasagna." Put the base of the lasagna on an individual oven-safe dish that you will use to serve. Over the base put a layer of Gorgonzola, mushrooms, and just a little sprinkle of grana cheese (to act as glue to the top). Add the top layer of the lasagna and cover with more Gorgonzola cheese.
- Put the plates in the oven, at about 400F or 200C just long enough to melt the cheese (about 5-10) minutes. Decorate with mushrooms, thyme leaves, toasted pine nuts and serve while the Gorgonzola cheese is still bubbling.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Mushrooms