mushrooms

farfalle with broccoli rabe, roasted mushrooms & butternut squash

I know that Valentine’s Day has come and gone already this year, but I thought I might share a little story about the first (and last) time I went out to a swanky restaurant for a Valentine’s Day date night.

farfalle with broccoli rabe, roasted mushrooms & butternut squash | Brooklyn Homemaker

This was before I met Russell, so it must have been about 7 or 8 years ago now. It was one of the first times that I actually had a boyfriend on Valentine’s day so I tried to make a sort of big deal about it. I booked a table at some fancy place in Williamsburg, not really realizing that every other young couple in Brooklyn would be celebrating at the very same restaurant .

farfalle with broccoli rabe, roasted mushrooms & butternut squash | Brooklyn Homemaker

We arrived a bit early and were greeted at the front door by a harried hostess who looked like she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. One look over her shoulder revealed the reason she was looking so frazzled. I’d been to this restaurant before, but on this night it appeared that they’d done some redecorating. All of the large tables for six or eight had been broken up into “romantic” tables for two, and all the couples at these tables were practically sitting in the laps of the couples next to them.

I couldn’t believe it was even possible to pack that many couples into one tiny dining room, and had no clue where they thought they were going to squeeze my fat ass into all this madness.

farfalle with broccoli rabe, roasted mushrooms & butternut squash | Brooklyn Homemaker

That was when the hostess said we could follow her “out back”.

I knew the restaurant had a back patio that they used in the summer, but to the best of my knowledge it was closed during New York’s chilly winter months, you know, like the month of February. We walked through the door and I couldn’t believe my eyes. The entire patio had been covered with a temporary fabric “ceiling” and filled with large propane patio heaters. The intimate space had been completely transformed into a mess hall, with rows and rows of “cute” little tables for two, all with about 4 centimeters of space between them. There had to have been at least 30 other couples sitting out there.

farfalle with broccoli rabe, roasted mushrooms & butternut squash | Brooklyn Homemaker

Of course, with the restaurant filled to capacity (or more likely over capacity), and with every table choosing a three course prix fix menu, the kitchen was completely swamped. Luckily the couple sitting next to us (our thighs were practically touching) was having a fascinating (and very loud) conversation, so there was no lack of atmosphere or entertainment for me and my date while we waited.

The food, when it came, was mediocre at best. This restaurant was usually very good, but in anticipation of the romantic stampede many of the evening’s dishes had been (at least partially) prepared and plated ahead. Even with the ready made meals, we still ended up waiting forever for our food and subsequently drank way too much to fill the time. I think we were hoping the hooch would help us forget what a crappy time we were having. It didn’t really occur to us how quickly all those cocktails and glasses of wine could add up, at least not until the bill came.

farfalle with broccoli rabe, roasted mushrooms & butternut squash | Brooklyn Homemaker

Then the headaches set in. I’m not sure if it was the propane heaters, or the crumby food, or the din of 30+ couples talking all at once in a small enclosed patio, or maybe, just maybe, it had something to do with all the drinks. (It was definitely all the drinks.)

Either way, we went home grumpy and broke, both of us with headaches, and neither of us feeling even remotely romantic.

farfalle with broccoli rabe, roasted mushrooms & butternut squash | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I started dating Russell I made it a point to make staying in on Valentine’s day a new romantic tradition. Every year we spend quality time at home alone with a fancy home-cooked meal and an even fancier home-cooked dessert. I usually make chocolate mousse. Russell LOVES chocolate mousse.

Most years I make a nice roast chicken or some kind of elegant wine braised something or other, but this year I wanted to do something different. We’ve been trying to be better about knowing where our meat comes from lately, and just eating a bit less meat in general, so I thought I’d make a romantical vegetarian pasta dinner with all sorts of good stuff swimming in it. When I noticed some beautiful butternut squash at the store I knew I had to use it. I don’t really think of butternut squash as a vegetable that goes with pasta, but I figured there was no time like the present to give it a shot.

farfalle with broccoli rabe, roasted mushrooms & butternut squash | Brooklyn Homemaker

To make sure the squash didn’t get too soft and turn to mush in the pan, I decided to chop it up and roast it in the oven so it would get tender inside but maintain it’s shape. I figured since the oven was on already I may as well roast my mushrooms too to save an extra step on the stovetop.

While the squash and mushrooms were getting all roasty and toasty, I set to work on some onions. Caramelizing onions, when done right, takes FOREVER. It just does. If you’re patient though, and avoid turning the heat up, they brown suuuper slowly and get so soft they’re practically creamy. I didn’t take them to french onion soup level caramelization, just a light golden brown that took about 45 minutes but offered a rich and subtly sweet punch of flavor. Building flavors is important in vegetarian cooking, so after the onions were ready I added some garlic and reduced some wine and stock down to almost nothing to concentrate their flavors too.

I thought broccoli rabe would be just the ticket to counter the sweetness of the onions and squash. If you’ve never had it, broccoli rabe has small florets similar to broccoli, but it’s mostly made up of thick leaves that wilt like chard when cooked. It has a deeply green bitter flavor that can sometimes even border on horseradish. It could not have been a better compliment to the sweeter elements in this dish. I tossed it all with al dente farfalle (bow ties – so much fun) and some fresh parsley and grated parmesan cheese.

All together this seems like a lot of steps to make some pasta, but it doesn’t take too too long if you time everything right and work efficiently. In the end all the extra work to build flavor really paid off and this was the perfect date night dinner, with plenty of leftovers.

farfalle with broccoli rabe, roasted mushrooms & butternut squash | Brooklyn Homemaker

Farfalle with Broccoli Rabe, Roasted Mushrooms & Butternut Squash

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper
2 to 3 large onions, thinly sliced into strips (about 4 cups sliced)
1 small to medium butternut squash
2 pints cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup low sodium stock (chicken or vegetable), divided
3 to 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed.
1 large bunch broccoli rabe
1 pound farfalle (bowtie) pasta
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425. .

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add thinly sliced onions and season with salt and pepper. Once the onions begin to soften turn the heat down to medium low and let them caramelize slowly, stirring occasionally, for about 3o to 45 minutes. This takes a long while but you want the onions to brown very slowly to bring out their sugars and intensify their flavor.

Use this time to prepare the rest of your vegetables. Peel and seed the butternut squash, and cut into small (about 1/2″ to 1″) cubes. Slice the mushrooms. Cut the dry ends off of the broccoli rabe and discard. Roughly chop the broccoli rabe, and try to slice the thicker stems smaller than the leafy tops (this way they’ll all cook through at the same time).

Toss the cubed squash in 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer over a parchment lined baking sheet and roast until cooked through, and browned on the bottom side, about 30 minutes. For more even browning you could toss the squash halfway through, but I didn’t find this step necessary.

Toss sliced mushrooms in remaining tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a thin even layer over another parchment lined baking sheet and roast in the same oven as the squash. The mushrooms should only take about 20 to 25 minutes to cook through, so either put them in after the squash, or start checking on them first.

Once the onions are super soft and begin to take on a light golden color, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the white wine, turn heat up to high, and reduce to almost dry. Add the stock and repeat, reducing by at least half or a little more.

Cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Just before draining, transfer about 1/3 cup of the starchy pasta water to the pan with the caramelized onions and reduced wine and stock. Drain pasta and set aside. Bring pasta water to a boil and add broccoli rabe. Cook for about 5 minutes or until deep green and wilted.

Transfer everything, including parsley and parmesan, to the pasta pot and toss toss toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately with a few shavings of extra parmesan cheese.

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a healthier cream of mushroom soup

I’ve been craving some good old fashioned cream of mushroom soup for weeks.

 a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I was growing up I had two working parents, so a lot of my afternoons were spent at my grandmother’s house out in the country in upstate New York. We always ate really well (too well, probably) at Grandma’s house, and lunch was always a big deal. Soup and sandwiches was a pretty popular lunch time menu, but I hated tomatoes when I was young so mushroom soup (from a can of course) was how I rolled.

I don’t know what kid likes mushrooms but not tomatoes, but what can I say. I was a weird kid I guess.

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I think of all the gorgeous tomatoes that I missed out on, grown in the bright sunshine of my grandfather’s garden, it makes my heart ache. What was wrong with me? What a sad boring life I led.

One of my great grandmother’s favorite lunches in the summer was a thick-sliced fresh tomato sandwich on white bread with a little mayonnaise and a generous sprinkle of salt. I, however, usually opted for velveeta grilled cheese (baked, not fried) with a bowl of cream of mushroom soup.

Mushroom soup has always felt like a perfect comfort food ever since.

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I recently dug around for recipes to satisfy my mushroom soup cravings, but I was stopped dead in my tracks by how heavy most of them sounded. I’m sure you know by now that I’m not shy about using real butter and cream, but Jeez Louise! One recipe, from my best-friend-in-my-head Ina Garten, called for a whole stick of butter, a cup of half and half, and a cup of heavy cream!

I knew there had to be a way to make a silky, creamy, rich & hearty cream of mushroom soup without using that much dairy and fat, but was having a hard time figuring it out. Then a friend at work reminded me that I already know the perfect secret ingredient!

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Aaaaaaaaawwwwwhhhhh! Look at how that beauty glows! Can you hear the angels singing?

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve already used this trick before, when making corn chowder this summer, and I guess I somehow just forgot about it. When I was whining about how heavy and fattening homemade cream of mushroom soup was, my friend was like, why don’t you just do that roasted cauliflower trick?

Duh!

Roasting cauliflower in the oven, rather than boiling it with the rest of the soup, keeps it from tasting cabbage-y, and once pureed super smooth, it adds an unbelievably silky texture that you’d truly never guess didn’t come from cream thickened with a roux. I don’t even understand how or why this works so well, but it really does.

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I wasn’t intending to make a vegetarian or vegan cream of mushroom soup, just a lighter version, so I went ahead and kept the chicken stock and (some of) the butter. I also intended to add in just a bit of milk or cream at the end, but once the roasted cauliflower was pureed in, I realized I didn’t even need to. With that in mind, I now realize that it would be really easy to make this soup vegan if you want to. Just substitute olive oil or coconut oil for the butter, and vegetable (preferably mushroom) stock for the chicken stock. Since cauliflower is the only thickening agent, this soup also happens to be totally gluten free!

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

This soup is just what the doctor ordered. It’s so earthy and rich and… mushroomy. Using three varieties of flavorful mushrooms makes sure that every bit packs a serious punch. White wine adds a luxe floral note, fresh thyme compliments the woodsy earthiness of the mushrooms, and fresh parsley finishes the soup with bright green herbal flavor. While this recipe is healthier than most, I would never call it a “diet” or “light” recipe because it tastes way too good to be “health food”, and because it does still call for a good bit of butter and olive oil.

Thanks to the pureed roasted cauliflower, this soup feels every bit as rich and satisfying as you could hope. Some of the mushrooms are pureed too, but I like to reserve a few so you get some meaty bites of them every so often. You can use an immersion blender or a standing blender to puree the soup, but I will say that a standing blender seems to get the soup just a bit more smooth and silky. I used an immersion blender though, because it works almost as well and just seems safer, easier, and less messy.

a healthier cream of mushroom soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

A Healthier Cream of Mushroom Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
1 small head of cauliflower
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp butter (or coconut or olive oil if desired)
2 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms (I used cremini, portabello, & shiitake)
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock  (or vegetable or mushroom stock)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400 F. Roughly chop cauliflower into large florets. Toss in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and arrange in an even layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, roughly chop your mushrooms, removing and discarding any thick woody stems (especially the stems of portabello and shiitake). Heat butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large thick-bottomed pot. Once the butter is sizzling, add the mushrooms and thyme, lightly season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook the mushrooms until they have released most of their liquid. Remove two cups of the cooked mushrooms, letting liquid drain back into pot, and set aside.
Add the onions and the garlic, and cook for about a minute. Add the white wine, chicken stock, and half of the chopped parsley. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add the roasted cauliflower.
Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a standing blender, purée the soup until completely smooth and silky. Return the pot to the stove, add the reserved cooked mushrooms and remaining chopped fresh parsley. If the soup is too thick, add a bit more stock to thin to the desired thickness. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary and bring back up to a simmer before serving.

classic coq au vin

Since Christmas is coming soon, and I’ve been a very good boy, I decided to buy myself a little present.

classic coq au vin | Brooklyn Homemaker

I went ahead and bought myself a fancy pants French braising pan. I’ve had my eye on one for years so I decided that I deserved to treat myself this year. I justified the cost (to myself) with the knowledge that I love braising, especially in cooler months, and this pan is so sturdy and solid that it should last a life time if I take care of it.

And it’s pretty.

classic coq au vin | Brooklyn Homemaker

I knew before I even got it home that I wanted Coq au Vin to be the first meal I prepared in my new favorite toy. I’ve made countless variations on chicken braised in wine, but I’ve actually never made a classic coq au vin before and I knew that that had to change.

classic coq au vin | Brooklyn Homemaker

We had a lot of red wine left over from our Thanksgiving celebration, so the timing couldn’t have been better. I really don’t know how this happened, by the way. I’m more than a little disappointed in myself and my dinner guests for not sucking down every last drop of booze that night.

classic coq au vin | Brooklyn Homemaker

I don’t own a copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (for shame, I know), so instead I looked to the modern queen of classic cooking, Ina Garten. As it turns out, her recipe is reaaaallly similar to Julia’s anyway. I made just a few tiny tweaks to make her recipe my own, and to thicken up the sauce just a wee bit.

classic coq au vin | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m going to channel my inner Ina and tell you that if you’re going to make this recipe, it pays to splurge on good ingredients. Use good wine, fresh thyme, and nice plump fresh mushrooms. If you can, get a nice thick whole chunk of bacon and dice it into thick lardons yourself. The size and texture just stands up better to low and slow cooking. If you can’t though, don’t let the bacon stop you. Seriously.

And, if you can, get a really really good chicken. If you can find an organic air-chilled chicken, go for it. They’re a little bit pricier but they have a much better flavor and the fat renders out of the skin better since the chicken hasn’t soaked in (and absorbed) water during processing. I won’t get into the specifics of chicken processing, but rest assured that (for many reasons) it’s worth your while to look for chicken that says “air chilled” on the package.

classic coq au vin | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was looking forward to butchering the chicken myself and showing you the process, but my market was out of whole air-chilled chickens but did have them pre-butchered for the same price. Sorry guys! Some other time.

If you don’t want to butcher your own chicken, your butcher will probably do it for you. Ask them to split the breasts. If you don’t want to use all the parts of the chicken, you can also do this with a mix of breast and thighs, or all thighs, or all breasts. It is important for flavor though, that everything is still on the bone with skin, and for even cooking you’ll need to have all the breasts cut in half.

classic coq au vin | Brooklyn Homemaker

This recipe is definitely worth all the hype. It’s rustic and homey and rich and sublimely satisfying.

I know that people always assume that all French food is fussy and stuffy and unattainable, but it’s not (always) true! French country dishes like Coq au Vin or Boeuf Bourguignon are actually really simple, comforting and filling. If you’re completely unfamiliar, Coq au Vin is a country chicken stew made with carrots, bacon, red wine, and mushrooms. It’s incredibly hearty and earthy, like some of the best comfort food you could ever want; like a warm cozy blanket made of chicken braised in red wine. The chicken is falling-off-the-bone tender and bursting with the rich bold flavors of the wine and thyme and mushrooms, and the sweet tender carrots and pearl onions balance the richness perfectly.

Just make sure you have enough wine to last you while you’re cooking and still have some left for serving!

classic coq au vin | Brooklyn Homemaker

Classic Coq Au Vin

  • Servings: 4 to 6-ish
  • Print
adapted from Ina Garten for Food Network

4 ounces thick cut bacon or pancetta, diced
1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces (breasts sliced in halves)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound carrots, cut into thick rustic pieces
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup Cognac
2 cups good dry red wine (preferably Burgundy)
1 cup chicken stock (homemade if possible)
10 fresh thyme sprigs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 pound frozen pearl onions
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and season liberally on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat a large heavy-bottom Dutch oven or braising pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon. If you have more than a tablespoon or two of bacon fat in the pan, pour off and reserve to use later in place of the butter.

When the bacon is removed, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Don’t crowd the chicken, just do two batches. Remove the chicken to the plate with the bacon and continue to brown until all the chicken is done. Set aside.

Add the carrots and sliced onions to the pan with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac and put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collected on the plate back into the pot along with the wine, chicken stock, and thyme. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, and place in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the chicken is just done. Remove from the oven and move back to the stovetop.

Mash 4 tablespoons of butter (or reserved bacon fat) and the flour together and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions and bring the stew back up to a very low simmer. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter (or bacon fat) to a separate medium saute pan, and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned and liquid cooks off. Stir the mushrooms into the stew and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, pasta, or cous cous.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta

When I first met my husband he was convinced that he was “allergic” to mushrooms.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

He had somehow lived his entire life believing that mushrooms, along with a few other foods, caused a very slight allergic tingle in his throat that (in his words) made him go “eh”. When he described the reactions to his “allergies” to me, I knew immediately that he was full of it. I myself have always loved mushrooms though, so I made it my mission to convince him that these food allergies were all in his head.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was relentless. We had just started dating, so he didn’t yet know just how stubborn and determined I can be when I think know I’m right, and he was eventually forced to give in to reason and logic. While he finally admitted that most of the foods in question were ones that he just didn’t like, mushrooms ended up being something that he decided were worth giving another try.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

To my surprise (and delight) he ended up loving them! I don’t even really understand where he’d picked up the idea he didn’t like (or was allergic to) mushrooms in the first place, but now we eat them all the time! No throat tingle, no “eh”.

I think that adding mushrooms to a dish is an easy and affordable way to add a hearty richness to foods that might otherwise be bland and boring. I always find myself wanting to “beef up” my dinners with the meaty earthiness of mushrooms as soon as the weather starts to turn cold. As much as they’re kind of assertive and distinct, mushrooms also seem to be incredibly versatile and go with a huge variety of foods and flavors.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

Back when I was single, and tended to spend more of my money on barhopping than recipe planning, I used to use mushrooms as a way to either stretch whatever protein I was cooking, or replace it altogether. When I was in the mood for something that felt sort of decadent and “fancy”, but didn’t have much time or money to spend on it, I loved to sauté mushrooms in butter and pile them up over some creamy polenta.

If you’re not familiar with polenta, you need to be. It’s super easy and cheap to make, and only takes about 20 minutes. It’s little more than cornmeal porridge, but the addition of chicken stock and a little butter and cheese make it somehow seem wonderfully rich and elegant. Creamy polenta tends to be the simplest and easiest preparation, but if you let it set up and get firm after cooking you can even slice it and grill, bake, or fry the wedges or sticks.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

While white buttons used to have the mushroom monopoly, these days you have a few more options at the grocery store than that. While I do like their texture, I think that buttons tend to be a bit bland, so if you want to use them I’d suggest mixing them with another, more flavorful, variety. If you’re really into mushrooms and want to play with flavors and textures, go wild and use a mix of trumpets, hen-of-the-woods, and shiitakes (just be sure to remove the stems). Some of those varieties can be a bit on the pricier side though, so to get a big bang for a little buck I like to use a mix of creminis and portobellos.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

The best part of this meal is how cheap and easy it is to throw together. You can have dinner on the table in under an hour, and everything that goes into it is super affordable. I’m sure I sound like a broken record here, but chicken thighs are my absolute favorite. Besides being cheap, they’re also way more flavorful than breasts and have a much nicer texture and don’t dry out when they’re cooked through.

This meal is perfect for fall. The chicken thighs are tender, rich, and super flavorful. The mushrooms have a great rustic meaty flavor and texture and help make this meal feel really filling and substantial. The wine adds a really subtle fruitiness and helps build depth, while the thyme adds a distinctive earthiness. Polenta is the perfect creamy complement to all the rich and solid flavor going on here.

braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and creamy polenta | Brooklyn Homemaker

Braised Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms and Creamy Polenta

2 lbs (about 4 large or 8 small) chicken thighs, bone in & skin on
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 lb (16 oz) mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used a mix of cremini and portobello)
3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock

Creamy Polenta:
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Generously season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Coat each piece with flour in a small dish and set aside. Preheat a large cast iron skillet over high heat, melt the butter and add the chicken pieces, skin side down. Brown each piece for 5 minutes on each side and remove to a plate to rest. Add onions and mushrooms to pan and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the mushrooms give off their liquid, and continue to cook over high heat until liquid is almost completely reduced, about 10 minutes. Stir in the wine and chicken stock. Gently press the chicken pieces down into the mushrooms, and add the thyme sprigs. Reduce heat to just shy of medium and let simmer until liquid is reduced and chicken is cooked through, about 20 or 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the creamy polenta. Heat the stock, water, & milk to a low simmer in a medium saucepan. Generously season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal making sure there are no lumps. Stir regularly until the polenta is very thick and creamy, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Once chicken is cooked through, remove thyme sprigs. Spoon polenta into a bowl and top with mushroom mixture and some reduced liquid. Top with a piece (or two if small) of chicken.