Crispy, native-spiced polenta chips and a juicy mix of mushrooms is a pairing you won't just save for meat-free Mondays.
- 30 g (¼ cup) plain flour
- 50 g butter
- 30 ml olive oil
- 1 kg mixed mushrooms (try field, Swiss browns, button), thinly sliced
- 250 ml (1 cup) vegetable stock
- ½ cup finely chopped French shallots
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- good pinch ground saltbush
- good pinch ground black pepper leaf (see note)
- 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
- ¼ tsp chilli flakes
- ¼ tsp ground pepper berry (see note)
- ¼ tsp ground bush tomato (see note)
- ¼ tsp dried lemon myrtle
- ¼ tsp Davidson plum powder
- ¼ tsp lemon aspen powder (see note)
- ¼ tsp dried ground saltbush
- ¼ tsp ground native mountain pepper leaf (see note)
- 190 g (1 cup) coarse polenta
- olive oil, for shallow-frying
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time: 2 hours
1. For the polenta, grease a 20 cm baking tin. Place all the spices in a small bowl and stir to combine. Place 1 litre of water into a heavy-based saucepan and add 1 teaspoon of the spice blend (store the remainder in a jar for later use). Bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Whisking continuously, gradually add the polenta until well combined. Reduce the heat to as low as possible and cook the polenta, stirring regularly for 10 minutes or until thick and smooth but still pourable. Spread the polenta into the greased tin. It should be about 1.5-2 cm-thick. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate until completely firm and chilled.
2. Meanwhile, for the mushroom ragout, place the flour into a dry saucepan and stir over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Reduce the heat to low, add the butter and stir until well combined. Remove the roux from the heat and set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned. Add the saltbush, black pepper leaf, shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the roux and stock and stir to combine well, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the tomatoes and season to taste.
4. Turn out the polenta onto a chopping board, trim the sides, then cut into 2 cm x 10 cm batons. Pour 2 cm olive oil into a large, deep frying pan and place over high heat until 180ºC (or until a cube of bread browns in 15 seconds). Fry the polenta until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towel and serve with the mushroom ragout.
• Mountain pepper leaf is also known as Tasmanian mountain pepper leaf or mountain pepper. Pepper berries come from the same tree. Available online from native food stores.
• Bush tomato is also known as Desert raisin, Kutjura and Akudjura. When dried on the bushes, the fruit look similar to raisins and have a strong sun-dried tomato, caramel and tamarillo flavour and aroma. Available online from native food stores or from specialist food stores.
• Native to far north Queensland, lemon aspen is a pale lemon coloured fruit with an intense citrus amora. The juice has a very strong acid flavour of lemon with a hint of grapefruit. Lemon aspen juice, the sweetened syrup and lemon aspen powder are available online from native food stores.
Catch Mark Olive in the second season of On Country Kitchen, Wednesdays 7:30 on NITV from 23 October to 18 December, or on SBS On Demand.