I have a bit of a strange relationship to polenta. In fact, I never payed much attention to it before I went gluten-free. The problem was: I didn’t really know how to prepare it. I am still not a fan of serving polenta meal along sauces or in a bowl topped with vegetables, but I have become a huge fan of crispy polenta after seeing it on TV, in food blogs and some of the forums that I frequent. Unfortuantely, crispy polenta is not the healthiest of dishes and so I save it for special occassions. Crispy polenta is very versatile and can be added to all sorts of vegetable sauces, think tomato and zucchini or even as a fun garnish for a soup. They do take a bit of time, but you can never go wrong serving these. They are delicious!

Ingredients for the Polenta Medals:
200 ml water
200 ml milk
100g gluten-free polenta
60g butter
60g parmeggiano (grated)
salt to taste (about 1 to 2 tsp)
milk and polenta
vegetable oil and butter for frying

Place all of the ingredients (except for the butter and the cheese) into a pot on your stove. Allow to heat up and then add the polenta and the salt. Stir well, ensuring there are no lumps, preferably with a large spoon and add the butter. Allow to cook (while stirring) until the polenta is done. You will know this is the case when it forms into one huge lump around your spoon and no longer sticks to the sides of the pot. Add the cheese and spread it evenly around the polenta.

Line a baking tin or a casserole dish with a baking tin and spread the polenta out evenly, resulting in a rectangle or square, about two to three cm thick. Cover with a second baking sheet and ensure the surface of the polenta is even. Let cool and keep in a cold place overnight. I have seen recipes where the polenta is used right away after it cools off, but I have never reached good results with this methods. This is why I suggest you let your polenta rest overnight.

The next day, using a round cookie cutter (you can go crazy here and do all sorts of shapes, such as stars or Christmas trees, Easter bunnies, etc) or a cup, carefully cut out medals out of the polenta. Once you have used up all the available surfaces, knead the remaining polenta into a dough, roll out again (ensuring the height is the same as of your other polenta medals) and repeat until all polenta has been converted into medals.

Now arrange two soup dishes: one with polenta, one with milk. One by one dip a polenta medal into the milk, cover entirely and then dip into the polenta, covering the medal in crumbs entirely. Set aside on a third dish, separating different layers (if need be) with a paper towel.

Heat up a pan with a generous amount of vegetable oil and/or butter and fry the polenta medals until golden brown. Place on a plate lined with a kitchen towel, allowing the polenta to drain of their fat. I prepared these ahead of time and simply reheated them in a pan until they were crispy again once we were ready to eat this dish.

For the mushroom ragout:
700g assorted fresh mushrooms (I used a mix of button mushrooms, shiitake, king oyster and oyster mushrooms)
one onion (chopped)
half a glass of dry white wine
whipping cream
vegetable broth
olive oil
a generous handful of chopped chives

Wash the mushrooms and cut into pieces of similar sizes. (I did this the day before, covered the mushrooms with a kitchen towel to combat humidity and kept them in a cold place overnight).

Heat up a large pan with a generous dash of olive oil, add the chopped onion and fry for two minutes. Add the mushroom and allow to fry until all of their liquid has evaporated, turning them every once a while ensuring all mushrooms are done and that none burn. Pour half a glass of white wine over the mushrooms, and allow the mushrooms to absorb the liquid. Add the vegetable broth, the whipping cream, as well as pepper to taste. After another minute, add the chopped chives (leaving some left over for garnishing the individual plates), stir well and turn off the pan. Fried Polenta Medals on Mushroom Ragout klklBuild a small mountain of mushroom ragout in the middle of each plate, decoratively arrange a polenta medal or two on top, garnish with chives and serve immediately.

Bon Appetit!

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