We love mushrooms, and we love polenta. We wanted to make a simple recipe that let the mushrooms shine. The polenta gives a nice crispy and satisfying base, the arugula salad adds brightness, and the earth mushrooms are the star of the dish. - Foxes —Foxes
Test Kitchen Notes
This simple appetizer could be equally as impressive for a big Friday night dinner party as for a casual Tuesday night supper. You'll especially enjoy the arugula salad, it’s almost Caesar-like with its generous handful of Parmesan. The greater and wilder the diversity of mushrooms you use, the more complex the overall flavors will be, but if creminis or even white buttons are all that you can find (or that your budget can permit), you'll still be satisfied. Don't skimp on the crème fraîche -- it's the ingredient that elevates and accentuates each component of the dish. - Nora S —Nora S
Put the milk and stock in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.
When the mixture is boiling, turn off the heat and add the bay leaf. Let soak for about 30 minutes (to get maximum flavor from the bay leaf).
Bring the mixture back to a simmer, and pour the polenta in, whisking constantly.
Stir until the polenta has thickened to the consistency of a thick oatmeal (5-10 minutes).
Stir in the butter, parmesan, salt, and pepper.
Butter two 5 inch round baking dishes, or one 9 inch baking dish.
Pour the polenta into the baking dish(es) and let chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
When you are ready to make the crispy polenta (after you've prepared the mushroom salad), choose a skillet large enough to hold all the polenta. Heat enough butter or oil to cover the bottom of the skillet over medium high heat.
Loosen the polenta in the baking dish by running a knife along the sides, then hold the dish upside down over your skillet and gently wiggle the polenta out.
Cover the polenta with a large pot lid to prevent splattering.
Cook until the bottom of the polenta is crispy and golden brown (about 5 minutes).
Flip the polenta and cook the other side in the same way/
Warm Mushroom Salad
In a medium bowl, make a vinaigrette by whisking together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and salt and pepper.
Toss the arugula and parmesan with the dressing and set aside.
In a skillet large enough to hold all the mushrooms without crowding them, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the mushrooms, garlic, and thyme.
Cook until the mushrooms have started to brown and the excess water has evaporated (about 10 minutes).
Remove the sprigs of thyme and discard. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper.
Plate the polenta topped with the dressed arugula. Put the mushrooms over the arugula and garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche.