If you’re looking for a little comfort food tonight given the frigid temps we’re experiencing, this recipe is a great one. Polenta is totally under-appreciated in my opinion. Not only does it cook super fast, if seasoned correctly it’s absolutely delicious, and it’s incredibly versatile. You can serve it with stew on top, as a side dish, with eggs for breakfast, as . a replacement for mashed potatoes…so many options.
This recipe from Bon Appetit uses it as a main dish, topped with crispy, crunchy, meaty roasted mushrooms with thyme. Hard to believe, but I had never roasted mushrooms before — I usually just saute on the stovetop. This method gives them such a nice flavor and texture, it’s going to be my new go-to.
The polenta is nice and creamy and cheesy, and the mushrooms are hit with a splash of vinegar at the end for the perfect balance of acid against the umami of the mushrooms.
- The polenta cooks through in the oven versus the stovetop, so make sure you use an oven-safe pot (i.e., no plastic handles, or cover them securely with tin foil).
- We selected a variety of different mushroom types, including shitake, cremini and lion’s mane, which were delicious! Pick something you’ve never tried before.
- Sea salt at the end adds a nice crunch.
- Garnish with Parmesan and thyme.
- As mentioned in the recipe, don’t crowd the mushrooms in the pan, or else they will steam versus roast. It will give them a totally different texture and taste.
Oven Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms and Thyme
- 1½ lb. mixed mushrooms (such as crimini, shiitake, oyster, and/or maitake), torn into 1″ pieces
- 4 sprigs thyme, plus leaves for serving
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed
- Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 cup polenta
- 4 oz. Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving
- 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- Flaky sea salt
Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 325°. Combine mushrooms, thyme sprigs, and garlic on a large rimmed baking sheet. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper; drizzle with oil. Toss to coat mushrooms, then spread out in an even layer. (Make sure not to crowd the mushrooms on the baking sheet; otherwise, they’ll steam instead of getting crispy.) Transfer to upper rack in oven and let mushrooms roast while you prepare polenta.
Bring 4½ cups water to a simmer in a large ovenproof saucepan over medium-high heat. Add butter and a generous pinch of kosher salt and whisk to melt butter. Gradually add polenta, whisking constantly. (Gradually incorporating the polenta into the water is key to preventing clumps.) Return mixture to a boil, immediately cover pot, and transfer to lower rack in oven. Bake polenta, shaking baking sheet with mushrooms occasionally, until polenta is tender, 25–30 minutes.
Remove polenta from oven. Crank up oven temperature as high as it will go (but don’t broil). Continue to cook mushrooms until crisp around the edges, 5–10 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, carefully uncover polenta and whisk vigorously, scraping bottom of pan, until polenta is smooth and thick. Gradually add 4 oz. Parmesan, whisking constantly until melted and incorporated; taste and season with more kosher salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm over low heat while mushrooms finish roasting.
Remove mushrooms from oven; drizzle with vinegar. Toss to coat; let cool slightly.
Divide polenta among bowls and top with mushrooms, thyme leaves, sea salt, and more Parmesan.