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Scarpetta's Creamy Polenta with Fricassee of Truffled Mushrooms

Scott Conant is no novice in the kitchen. With five Scarpetta locations and his new D.O.C.G Enoteca making some noise in Vegas this ambitious chef has his plate full. But a visit to his kitchen shows us that he hasn't lost that magic touch when it comes to preparing a killer dish. His creamy polenta with fricassee of truffled mushrooms will make you weak at the knees.

Although he is sharing the recipe with us below, it is probably best enjoyed in the restaurant where it is offered as part of their Miami Spice dinner menu. But if you're feeling adventurous, go to the next page and give it try!

Creamy Polenta with fricassee of truffled mushrooms by Chef Scott Conant

Creamy Polenta
makes 4 to 6 servings

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
  • 3 oz. (about 2/3 cup) cornmeal, preferably coarse ground
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh chives (optional)

In a heavy saucepan, combine the cream and milk and heat over medium high heat just until small bubbles begin to appear on the surface. Add the salt, and whisk the cream and milk until quite frothy. ( I don't have a scientific explanation as to why this whisking step is important, but I know from experience that when I don't do it, my polenta just doesn't seem as delicious as usual. Since this initial whisk is easy and takes practically not time, I recommend you do it, too.)

Add the polenta and continue to whisk the mixture as it comes to a boil. Continue whisking for an additional 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to very low, cover the pan, and cook the polenta, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the cornmeal is completely cooked and quite tender, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. It may seem very thin initially, but it will gradually thicken. As the polenta cooks, a skin will form on the bottom and sides of the pan (if you are not using a nonstick pan), which is proper and which gives the polenta a slightly toasty flavor.

Just before serving, stir in the butter, the Grana Padano, and the chives, if using. The polenta should pour from the spoon as you serve it and will thicken as it cools. If necessary, you can think the polenta with a little milk just before serving. Divide the polenta among heated bowls or plates.

Fricassee of Truffled Mushrooms
Make 4 servings

  • About 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • about 8 oz mixed domestic and wild mushrooms, sliced or cut into naturally occurring pieces, about 2 cups
  • 1/2 cup homemade chicken reduction or purchased chicken reduction, diluted with water to liquid.
  • 1 tbsp snipped chives
  • about 1/2 tsp white truffle oil

In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring until the shallots just begin to color on their edges. Add the mushrooms and cook until the liquid is released. Add the chicken reduction, bring to a boil, reduce to a bubbling simmer and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. (You can prepare the mushrooms ahead up to this point; reheat them over medium-high heat just before serving)

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Have the polenta portioned out into warm bowls. Just before serving, reheat the mushrooms if necessary. Toss the mushrooms with the chives and drizzle a little of the truffle oil over the mushrooms. Be careful not to cook the truffle oil more than a few seconds, because the flavor (and the "breathe") dissipates quickly. Spoon some mushrooms and some of the cooking juices over each serving of polenta.

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