On Monday I embarked on a new adventure with a kick ass truffle dish. I started cooking for Dishnextdoor, a pioneering initiative aiming to bring home cooked food to people who don’t have time to prepare their supper after a busy day at work. The pilot project for now is covering my neighbourhood only, but founders Bob and Joel aim to expand the scheme to the rest of London if it proves successful.
Instead of picking a takeaway on their way back from work, users can browse the site during the day, choose and pay for their meal, and pick it up from the cook’s home at the end of their day. My neighbourhood provides an exciting and enticing mix of cooks, from a Senegalese guy to an Indian nun making lovely thalis, an Italian gluten free only chef and a Turkish former Masterchef winner. And then me (you can easily spot me on the site, I am the one with the worst profile picture).
So on launch day, which was this Monday, I decided to kick off with a Piedmontese staple, a mushroom ragout with oven baked polenta, made even more tempting by the addition of truffle-infused extra virgin olive oil. Gluten free and vegetarian, it was a dish that promised to appeal to a lot of people. I used a mix of wild and cultivated mushrooms, cooked in a classic soffritto base of carrot, onion, celery and a bit of leek. I also enriched the sauce with cream and a touch of sherry, to give it depth and oodles of umami-ness. Served with oven baked polenta, freshly grated Parmesan, parsley and freshly ground pepper, this meal promised to make people forget it was Monday again.
And I wasn’t disappointed: considering it was their first night, and Joel and Bob were still out flying to publicise the initiative, I sold seven dishes over 10, not a bad result at all for the beginning.
So here is the recipe for my inaugural Dishnextdoor creation, Truffle’n’shrooms ragout with oven baked polenta. I hope you enjoy it.
Makes 8 large portions
For the polenta:
800g polenta bramata flour
3.5 lt water
3 pinches Maldon sea salt flakes
For the ragout:
3 carrots, minced
1 large onion, minced
1 small leek, minced
5 celery sticks, minced
20g unsalted butter
two pinches of Maldon sea salt flakes
a generous splash of amontillado sherry
1 kg white and chestnut mushrooms, quartered
600g oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
50g dries porcini mushrooms, soaked in about 100ml water (reserve this for the sauce) then finely chopped.
20ml water (optional)
300ml double cream
Freshly ground pepper
4 tbsp white truffle infused extra virgin olive oil
50g freshly grated parmesan
20g fresh parsley, chopped
First prepare the polenta. Bring to boil 3.5lt of water, add the salt then start adding the polenta little by little, stirring continuously to avoid lumps. When it reaches a thick consistency and the grain have gone soft, dish it out on two large baking trays, and let cool.
Now start working on your ragout. Blend the carrots, onions, leek and celery in a food processor. Melt the butter in a deep saucepan, add the soffritto mix, the sea salt and cook until soft. Add the sherry and let it evaporate. Now add your mushrooms, stir well and cook for another 20 minutes on low heat, adding the soaking water from the dried porcini to prevent the sauce from drying. Top up with more water if needed.
Preheat your oven to 220˚C. Place the polenta in the oven and cook for about 15 minutes until the top is shiny and slightly crispy. The edges of the polenta should lift and detach from the baking tray.
Go back to your ragout. Stir in the double cream and let the sauce bubble for 10 more minutes. Add the pepper and truffle oil.
Cut the polenta into half lengthways on each tray, then make horizontal, finger like strips. Place a few strips on a plate, top with the ragout and a generous sparkling of Parmesan and parsley. Enjoy warm with a glass of red wine. A real winter warmer.