This dish is perfect for autumn. You have an array of mushrooms (king brown, Swiss brown and oyster) mingling very happily and saucily, with lots of garlic and herbs sitting atop a creamy base of soft polenta. The polenta is an excellent match with the earthiness of the mushroom ragù and the pungent flavour of taleggio. This dish is perfectly complete on its own, but can also work well as a side dish.
- 5 cloves garlic, roughly bashed
- 3 large king brown mushrooms, sliced (see Note)
- 100 g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced across into 1 cm slices
- 100 g oyster mushrooms, roughly torn
- 30 g butter
- 2 tsp picked thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 80 ml white wine
- 100 ml stock (vegetable or chicken)
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- soft polenta
- 80 g taleggio, at room temperature
- olive oil
- river salt and white pepper
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.
Place a wide-based pan over a medium heat, give it a few minutes to warm and then add a healthy splash of olive oil, closely followed by the garlic. Give the garlic a good stir, you want it to start to turn a nice golden brown. Just before it begins to get too dark, add your king and Swiss mushrooms, stir and raise the heat.
Allow these two mushrooms a little time in the pan, give them a chance to brown, only stirring often enough so that your garlic doesn't burn.
After a couple of minutes, add in the oyster mushrooms, stir them through and then add the butter, thyme and bay leaves. Make sure you stop here for a moment to give them a little season. I'd add a small amount of salt here, but I do tend to go quite heavy with the white pepper.
Keep stirring, you want the butter to melt and start to brown and you want to be able to smell the thyme.
At this stage, add the white wine and let it reduce by half before adding in the stock. Once the stock has been added, all you need to do now is give it a few more turns and cook for another few minutes. Have another taste for seasoning; if you think that it needs a little more butter, please do add as that's what I usually do.
Once you're satisfied with your mushrooms, get a large warm platter and turn out the soft polenta onto it. Stir the parsley through the mushrooms before spooning them and any juicy bits over the top of the polenta. Slice your taleggio and lay the pieces over the top, before giving everything a final drizzle of olive oil and an extra little bit of pepper.
• King brown mushrooms are very delicious and remain nice and firm when cooked. I like to cut them by starting at the bottom, cutting into 2 cm rounds up to about 5 cm from the top. At this stage, I turn the mushroom around and then cut into 2 cm slices, but from top to bottom. Not only does this give you even-sized pieces to cook with, I also think they look pretty.
Photographs by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson.