Pan-roasted porcini mushrooms with garlic scapes and corn kernel polenta

Porcini, Cepe and King Bolete are different names for the same species of mushroom. Roasted fresh porcini are a special delight that is enjoyed on many continents. In the Pacific Northwest, porcini are found at high altitudes, mostly in the coastal or Cascade Mountain ranges.  They begin to appear in late May and sometimes continue through mid-summer. If you go foraging for your own, choose firm caps without slimy residue, and gills that are light in color and not mushy. You may also find fresh porcini at your local farmers market, or substitute other firm mushrooms including cremini and portabella. 

Garlic scapes are the flowering stems of garlic bulbs. They are a sure a sign of spring, popping up above the ground to signal the long- awaited garlic harvest. Unique to spring, scapes can be difficult to find in the summer months, when you can substitute green onions or garlic cloves. Look for scapes with tender tops that can be split or minced for inclusion in a variety of dishes.

Polenta is readily available in most markets, but polenta made from locally-grown corn is worth searching for.  My favorite variety is Roy's Red Flint Corn Polenta grown and ground by Carol and Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm, in Gaston, OR. Fresh corn kernels added to the slow simmered polenta offer a beautifully  fresh crunch to the soft porridge. 

makes 4 servings

 

Ingredients

For the polenta:
½ cup polenta

1 ear fresh corn, kernels removed from cob,  or 1 cup frozen corn kernels

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Zest and juice of one lemon

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the mushrooms:
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound (2 to 3 medium-sized) porcini mushrooms, brushed clean of dirt and debris, and cut in 1/4-inch thick slices 

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

6 garlic scapes or tops/flowers, split lengthwise down the middle if thick (substitute 3 cloves garlic, finely minced, or green onions)

1 tablespoon finely minced chives (4 or 5 chive stems)

1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley 

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, optional 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Procedure

Start the polenta by bringing 2 cups of generously salted water to a boil in a medium sized pan.  When the water is boiling, add the polenta slowly and in a steady stream, stirring at the same time to ensure that no lumps form.

Put a second pot with at least 1 quart of water on and bring it to a boil. Transfer the polenta from the pot to a bowl that fits over the second pan of boiling water. Place the bowl over the pan and simmer, stirring frequently, for  45 minutes. Add the corn kernels, cheese, lemon juice and finely chopped zest, butter, and black pepper to the bowl during the final five minutes of cooking.  Adjust the seasoning and flavors as needed, adding more cheese, lemon juice or butter if desired.

For the mushrooms, heat a wide, heavy-bottomed sauté pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil and mushrooms, a a big pinch of salt.  Cook the mushrooms over high heat stirring and turning them as they cook and color. As they begin to soften and brown, continue to stir or shake the pan and add the shallot and garlic scapes, allowing them to brown slightly, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the chives and parsley, seasoning with more salt if needed and adding freshly ground black pepper and the butter if using. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the ingredients together.  

To serve, spoon the hot polenta into bowls or onto plates and top with the mushroom sauté. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over top for a bright finishing flavor.