This side dish or main course will absolutely satisfy you, just as a serving of steak and potatoes would! I should know because I happen to be someone who loves meat and potatoes! This Mushroom Polenta Cake is intensely flavorful and extremely hearty. And believe it or not, this dish is both vegetarian and gluten-free! Oh my!
I was inspired by a sweet polenta cake, Pinza Della Befana, that I saw in La Cucina Italiana Magazine last month. While I find the sweet cake intriguing and will definitely try it soon, I wanted to create something similar but savory. This would of course be a lovely addition to my “sofa dinner party” this coming weekend!
P.S. La Cucina Italiana is one of my favorite food magazines! It’s beautiful and always inspires me.
Serves about 12
Prep Time: 1 hour
Baking Time: 1 hour
Active Work Time: 35 minutes
8 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon finely chopped, fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped, fresh sage
1-3/4 teaspoons sea salt
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, broken into small pieces
2 cups instant polenta
1-1/2 cups potato flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups Sautéed Sherry Mushrooms (here’s the recipe)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Add the stock, sherry, all of the herbs, salt, and dried mushrooms to a large stock pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, turn the heat off, keep the pot covered, and let the mushrooms hydrate to become soft, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl combine the polenta, potato flour, baking soda, sugar and cheese.
Once the porcini mushrooms are soft, uncover and bring the mixture to a boil once again. Once it’s boiling, add the Sautéed Sherry Mushrooms and turn the heat off.
Now very slowly and gradually, add the polenta mixture in a steady stream, constantly stirring. Add the butter and stir only until you have a thick, creamy mixture.
Pour the mixture into a 9 X 13 X 3-inch baking dish and use a flat-bottomed spatula to smooth the top.
Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden brown, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit on a cooling rack for at least 45 minutes before serving. (Cover it with foil after the first 15 minutes.)
Up to 1 day and at least 30 before making the polenta: Make the Sautéed Sherry Mushrooms.
About 1-1/2 hours ahead: Hydrate the porcini mushrooms.
1 hour ahead: Mix the polenta and begin baking.
You can make this 1 day ahead. Let it cool completely and cover it tightly before refrigerating overnight. Before serving, bring the cake to room temperature, and warm it in a 375 degree F oven, just until it’s hot all the way through, about 20 minutes.
If you cut and serve this soon after baking it, it will be a much looser consistency than the “cake” you see above. Either way, it’s delicious!
If you want to take one extra step, this is also fabulous if you slice it once it’s very firm (the next day), and then fry the slices in olive oil — it adds an additional “crust.”