Wild Mushroom Polenta Packets make an unforgettable side dish with chervil, tarragon and garlicky mushrooms over a bed of polenta, all wrapped up in neat little parcels that keep the aromas and flavors trapped inside.
It’s no secret that I love cooking with parchment. I use if for just about everything from lining my baking sheets to steaming fish, pasta, and veggies. Today I’ve made little rustic packets of mushrooms and creamy polenta. The flavors are completely alluring, and I bet you’ve never had anything quite like this before. It starts with a layer of polenta, or cooked cornmeal. Polenta can be a little bland on its own, in fact I often have to load it up with butter and cheese to give some oomph. But I’ve discovered that if I simmer the cornmeal in SWANSON® Natural Goodness® Chicken Broth instead of water, the flavor is amazing and there’s no need for additional seasoning.
The cornmeal absorbs the broth as it cooks and results in a perfectly seasoned polenta. For this recipe the new 24 ounce bottle is just the right amount. It features a cool Easy Measure Strip on the side, which means you can pour exactly what you need without hauling out the measuring cups. I used chicken broth but you can use beef or vegetable broth as well, with equally great results.
The broth-infused polenta goes into the packets first as a base for the mushrooms. I use a combination of dried wild mushrooms and fresh, both buttons and creminis. Don’t skip the dried mushrooms, you’ll find them in little packets in your grocery store. They add so much depth of flavor to any mushroom dish and all they need is a short soak in warm water to reconstitute them. Choose any kind you like, they will all work. Mine are baby shitakes.
The nice thing about this dish is that all you do is toss the mushrooms together with the rest of the ingredients and layer it over the polenta in the parchment. It all steams to perfection in the oven as the flavorful moisture released from the mushrooms gets trapped inside the packet.
These Wild Mushroom Polenta Packets are an adaptation of one of Yotam Otteolenghi’s from his wonderful cookbook Plenty. The unusual pairing of chervil and tarragon makes a welcome change of pace — and it’s worth noting that something as simple as changing out your usual herbs can make a huge difference in your enjoyment of a meal. Chervil, which is sometimes called French parsley, has a delicate leaf and slight licorice flavor. Tarragon is a little more common here in the States but is still vastly under appreciated, if you ask me. They are two of the four herbs that make up the French fines herbes, the other two being parsley and chives.
I highly recommend this, the aromas and flavors are fantastic. It makes a great side dish for chicken or other meats, but sometimes I like to fill the packets a little fuller and serve it as a supper all on its own, with a nice glass of Chardonnay.
Wild Mushroom Polenta Packets
- 1 cup polenta or cornmeal
- 3 cups 24 ounces SWANSON® Natural Goodness® Chicken Broth
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 Tbsp butter
- a 1/2 ounce package of dried wild mushrooms
- 1 lb assorted button and cremini mushrooms
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 3 Tbsp fresh chervil chopped
- 3 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 Tbsp heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp Marsala or dry sherry
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 4 squares of parchment paper 15 inches x 15 inches
- oven safe string
- more toasted pine nuts
- fresh chervil leaves
- Set oven to 400F
- Soak the dried mushrooms in lukewarm water for about 3o minutes, drain and give them a rough chop. Set aside.
- Heat the broth in a saucepan on the stove until it comes to a boil. Add the cornmeal slowly, while whisking. Cook, stirring often, until the polenta becomes very thick. This will take about 15 minutes or so. Add the butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile brush off the fresh mushrooms, trim the ends of the stems, and give them a rough chop. I like the pieces to be chunky.
- Toss the mushrooms, dried mushrooms, garlic, herbs, oil, cream, and Marsala in a bowl until well combined.
- Ladle some polenta in the center of a piece of parchment, and then top with 1/4 of the mushroom mixture. Sprinkle the top with the pine nuts. Tie it up into a bundle and secure with string. Do the same for the other packets.
- Set the packets on a baking sheet and bake for about 17-20 minutes. They should be hot and bubbling inside.
- Serve hot, right from the packets, with a few more pine nuts and a little fresh chervil sprinkled on top.
- Use Swanson® Beef or Vegetable Broth with equally good results in this dish. The technique of cooking grains or legumes in broth instead of water is one I use over and over again to infuse extra flavor in food without adding heavy or fattening ingredients.
- An easy way to make the packets is to set the parchment square over a bowl and punch it down, then you can add your polenta and mushrooms and tie it up. The bowl helps maintain the pouch shape as you fill and tie it.
- You can add grated Parmesan cheese to the polenta at the end, or use it as a garnish over the finished packets if you like.
- Fyi, we had success reheating the leftover packets in the microwave.
- Ottolenghi flavors his mushrooms with Pernod, an anise flavored liqueur. If you love licorice flavors, use that.
- If you’re not into parchment, don’t miss out on this dish, just layer the polenta into a shallow casserole dish and top with the mushrooms. Cover tightly with foil and cook for about 25 minutes, or until everything is hot and bubbling.
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*These Wild Mushroom Polenta Packets were conceived and shared in association with Swanson®. Thanks to all of you for supporting my sponsors, I only work with brands I trust and use myself. <3