Union's Creamy Polenta With Mushrooms

Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 6
Union's creamy polenta with mushrooms
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
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This polenta is one of those dishes that comes in under the radar, composed of humble ingredients or made with underappreciated techniques; loved by the locals, rather than creating a cult following, it operates more like a restaurant’s secret handshake. It’s a simple bowl of polenta made with corn ground at Grist & Toll, a nearby mill and flour shop, and a satisfyingly large amount of milk, cream, butter and cheese. It is topped with sautéed wild mushrooms, with some added herbs, garlic, wine and sherry vinegar. Feel free to add a bit of truffle butter.




In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the cream and milk and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the polenta and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring every few minutes or so, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan so the polenta does not burn. Cook the polenta until it is creamy, about 30 minutes, adding additional milk if the polenta thickens too quickly before it is tender. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for 20 to 30 minutes.


Whisk in the butter and grated cheese, then taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Creamy Polenta With Wild Mushrooms


In a large saute pan, heat the oil, butter and herbs over medium heat, cooking until the herbs are crisp and the butter begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes.


Add the mushrooms and season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper, or to taste. Toss, coating the mushrooms with the fat and increase the heat to high, cooking until the mushrooms brown a little, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium.


Make a well in the center of the pan and add the garlic and chile flakes. Stir the garlic until it is cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes, then combine it with the mushrooms. Add the wine and broth, then remove from heat and add the vinegar. Taste, adjusting the seasonings as desired.


To serve, fill a serving dish with polenta, then top with the mushrooms.

Adapted from a recipe from Bruce Kalman of Union restaurant in Pasadena.