Creamy Cheesy Polenta with Wild Mushrooms

Polenta, or finely or coarsely ground cornmeal is one of  those ingredients that are transformed with just a little loving. Most people would consider polenta a peasant food, something hearty and cheap that can be put together to add bulk to a meal but add some butter and cheese to it and it become a thing of creamy beauty. Then add some sauteed wild mushrooms on top and you've got yourself a rockin' dish. Don't be alarmed by the amount of full fat dairy that goes into the polenta because the recipe makes a ton- so much that I put aside half to re-purpose for a different meal. Serve the polenta as soon as possible after making it otherwise it starts to congeal and firm up. Make this as a side dish for  fish or eat it by itself for a vegetarian main course- either way, just eat it- Peasant food never tasted so good!

For the Polenta:
6 cups of water
3 cups of vegetable stock (or just use all water)
1 Tablespoon of salt
2 1/2 cups of polenta or corn meal
1 1/2 cups whole milk
10 Tbl butter (150 grams), cut into cubes 
3 Tbl cream cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water, stock and salt to a boil. Lower the flame to medium and add the Polenta slowly while whisking and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is cooked through- about 10-15 minutes. Remove from flame and add the butter, cream cheese, parmesan, cheddar and milk and whisk till the cheese and butter melts. Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

For the Mushrooms:
3 Tbl butter
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
1 clove garlic crushed
2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms (shimeji, oyster, shitaki, portabella), cleaned and sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter in a pan and saute the leeks and garlic until almost tender. Raise the flame to high, add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook (trying not to mix it too much, you want the mushrooms to get some color) for 2-3 minutes. Continue cooking until the mushrooms are tender and the liquid has evaporated. Serve over the polenta.


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