Summer time and the livin’ is easy…
Unless you’re a vegetarian at a barbecue (or so I’ve heard from my meatless mates).
“Sure there’s veggie patties and soy sausages” they say to me, resignedly, “but it’d be so nice – just for once – to be the one with an enviable portion of food instead of the poor sod with a disintegrating tofu burger because someone mistook silken for firm.”
(And yes, I know nobody really talks like that, but I’ve a habit of paraphrasing badly).
Not being a vegetarian myself, I’d never noticed my poor friends’ plights.
Meaning I’d probably left them with nothing but a limp salad to eat for dinner on more than one occasion whilst the rest of us gnawed on sausages that spurted oil from bubbles in their synthetic lining with every bite… and I think I’ll take those sympathetic thoughts back and reassign them to everyone who’s attending a barbecue this long, glowing Summer.
Unless, of course, you’re barbecuing smart.
Snags set well and truly aside for a moment, I’ve even managed to find myself ensconced in a bit of an obsession with my trusty six-burner-two-grill-plate-one-flat-plate-wok-burner-attachment barbecue. So attached even that I regularly forget that it doesn’t even belong to me.
Which will be a pity when I have to part ways with it.
Which is why I’ve double-developed this recipe so that it can be made with or without the assistance of your trusty gas or coal guzzling unit.
It’s a recipe that easily translates between the long, hazy days of Summer and the cold, frosty Winter months with the simple addition of a mushroom infused polenta.
Not that you can’t make and eat a mushroom infused polenta at a Summer barbecue. You could.
But you could also toss the mushrooms with some peppery rocket and fresh parsley and crumbled feta for a fresh, earthy, almost meaty salad.
Or you could toast some bread that had been rubbed with garlic on the grill plate and top it with ladleful of these mushrooms for a bruschetta-like starter.
Or you could do as the Bean did and just eat them as is, with a simple yoghurt and lemon juice dressing, cross legged on the back lawn whilst reading a book.
(The latter of which is my preferred method of consumption).
All you need to do is haul your tired, sun-tanned legs up to your local market or greengrocer and set hands on the widest variety of mushrooms you can find. Toss them in a simple miso dressing. Grill on the hot plate. Or wrap it up in a paper parcel and do the same.
Eat. Enjoy. Repeat.
you will need:
750g mixed mushrooms
3tbsp white miso paste
2tbsp balsamic vinegar
1tbsp rice vinegar
1tbsp olive oil
12 sprigs of thyme
salt and pepper
how to do it:
1. Give your mushrooms a quick wipe down and either pull them apart or cut them up so that they are roughly the same size.
2. Mix the remaining ingredients together to form a paste. Toss the paste and the mushrooms together until they are evenly coated.
3a. If you are cooking en papillote (in a paper bag), pull off four pieces of parchment or baking paper about 40cm in length. Split the mushrooms between the four pieces of paper, top with thyme and fold into a parcel, secured with string.
3b. If you are cooking straight on the flat plate (or a cast iron pan for those barbecue-less), just toss the thyme in and give it a mix-up.
4. Place the parcels on a medium grill and cook until you see juices being released in the bag – about 15 minutes. Alternatively, toss the mushrooms straight onto the flatplate, turning occasionally, until they are slightly caramelised.
mushroom infused polenta
you will need:
6 pieces dried shitake mushrooms
6 pieces dried porcini mushrooms
1/2C instant polenta
300ml boiling water
how to do it:
1. Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour boiling water over the top. Leave to sit for at least 15 minutes whilst the mushrooms soften and infuse the water with flavour. Carefully pour the mushroom stock into a saucepan. Chop the rehydrated mushrooms finely.
2. Add the milk and salt to the mushroom stock and bring to a boil.
3. When the liquid is boiling, pour the polenta and chopped mushrooms in and whisk steadily until it thickens and pulls away from the side of the pan.
4. Take the polenta off the heat and add the butter and parmesan, stirring until they are melted through.
This post has been sponsored by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association. For more mushroom recipes, check out www.mymushrooms.com.au