I’ve been criss-crossing the country the last few weeks spending time in the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Northeast and obviously California. A few weeks earlier I was all over the Midwest too! It’s been a whirlwind start to fall and if there’s one thing I take from all my travels, besides an epic mileage status, it’s recipe inspiration!
During my last stint in the Midwest I was able to hang with the incredible team at the Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove headquarters right in Madison, Wisconsin. I’ve been a Sub-Zero and Wolf fan for ages as it’s what all my clients had in their kitchens back when I was a private chef. I mean, can we discuss those iconic red knobs on Wolf ranges … they match my signature red nail polish and I’m obsessed!! It’s VERY rare that I’ll head out on a press trip with a brand – unfortunately my schedule just doesn’t allow it most of the time. But when Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove called, I cleared my schedule and headed out. It’s home to the most incredible refrigeration, cooking and dishwashing appliances (Cove is the newest addition to the bunch!) and I wanted to learn everything. Also, I feel like it’s only a matter of time before we totally buy a house and you know I’m gutting that kitchen and building the kitchen of my dreams – so obviously this was basically a research mission. Each piece, whether it’s a refrigerator, cooktop, oven or dishwasher is crafted over a multi-day process and put through rigorous testing to ensure everything is perfect. It’s exactly the kind of quality I’d want in my kitchen!
And not only is the entire company dedicated to creating the most perfect product possible, they are also committed to helping people make delicious meals at home. A portion of their HQ is dedicated to an organic garden and big beautiful barn called Harvest Haven. The barn’s kitchen is full of Sub-Zero, Wolf, and Cove appliances and an incredible culinary team led by chef Joel Chesebro who churned out incredible meal after incredible meal. I’m pretty sure within the 48 hours of being in Madison I had some of the most memorable meals of my year.
Joel and his team oversee the garden which produces all sorts of gorgeous produce! Right now they even have a 800+ pound pumpkin!! They also have a greenhouse full of tomatoes, tons of kale and leafy greens, berries, apples, pears… you name it. It’s basically Mecca for any chef to be able to walk the garden each morning and then create a meal based on what’s in season in the most gorgeous kitchen of all times. I mean, GOALS.
Chef Joel made us many different things during our stay but my favorite (besides the pie!) was a dish from the first night – a polenta with heirloom tomatoes and herbs served family style. It was truly special. I had seconds. And thirds. Honestly can’t remember the last time that happened. The polenta was the base for the end of summer tomatoes and you can bet I’ll be re-creating that come tomato season next year.
Since tomatoes are pretty much done for the year in most of the world (with the exception of the ones I saw at the Santa Monica farmers market last week) I swapped them out for some earthy mushrooms and went to town. It’s exactly the kind of meal I’d want to make for myself on a crisp fall day. It’s perfect for a family dinner, or for a larger party if you want a vegetarian main course option! It also works as a side but the polenta is a little decadent which is why I love serving it for the main! Make it this weekend, I promise you’ll be obsessed!
Caramelized Mushroom Polenta
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup polenta
- Kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 pounds assorted wild mushrooms, carefully torn apart
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup half and half
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- Garnish: Chives ?
- Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Slowly add the polenta, stir with a wooden spoon, and add 1 tsp salt. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the polenta is tender and full cooked, about 20 minutes. Add the milk, 2 tbsp of the butter, and the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to the polenta and stir together over medium-low heat until just warmed through and soft enough to drop easily from a spoon, a few minutes more. Cover to keep warm.
- Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown and release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are crispy but still juicy, seasoning with salt and pepper toward the end of cooking. Add the shallot, garlic and thyme and cook 4 minutes more. Add the half and half and the wine. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid thickens just slightly and coats the mushrooms evenly, a few minutes more. Discard the thyme sprig and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.
- Transfer the mushrooms on top of the polenta and serve family style. Or spoon the polenta into bowls and top with the mushrooms and garnish with herbs.
** This post is brought to you by Sub Zero, Wolf, and Cove. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for What’s Gaby Cooking**