We have known for years that too much meat, especially red meat, expands your waistline and upsets your heart. And, today, the fact that meat is bad for the environment is slowly making its way into newspaper headlines and books.
The solution? I suppose you could get a second job and buy all your meat from sustainable sources, but, as Michael Pollan and his disciples have written, if you are in it for the earth and yourself, less meat is best. Plus, I'm not sure grass fed meat tastes great (more on that topic later).
Giving up meat isn’t easy, and I don’t intend on becoming a vegetarian, but eating less meat is something I’m down with. Not so down that I want to give up taste. Taste is always first in my book, and, I think, that it's a losing battle to try to convince someone to eat something that tastes inferior. Rice cakes are a good example if this. Who wants rice cakes when chips are around?
So how do you cook meatless meals with lots of flavor? One simple fungus: mushrooms. Mushrooms are hearty, flavorful, and go well with most grains. I put them on pizza, pasta, and in phyllo pie. Here they are with polenta: my new favorite kitchen staple.
Mushrooms cook quickly.
So does polenta.
Funny story from the diary of a foodie.
Dear Diary: Today, while I was walking home from whole foods, I tripped over my own feet, ate the sidewalk, and landed on my bleu cheese, which splattered on the concrete. My arm hurts. I'm still going to use the cheese. What's left of it anyway.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, diced
1 cup cornmeal
2 packages mixed mushrooms (portobello, shiitake, oyster, etc.), sliced
2 shallots, diced
2 teaspoons thyme
1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
Salt to taste
Heat a stainless steel pan on a medium-low burner. Add olive oil, shallots, and mushrooms. Sauté until browned. When the mushrooms appear almost done, add thyme and garlic.
Making the polenta: You should follow the directions on your cornmeal bag. Heat 2 cups of water and then add the cornmeal slowly, whisking as you go, and cooking for 15 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to taste (more=creamier and fattier, so it depends on how you like it). Add salt to taste. Add bleu cheese and top with mushroom mixture. Serve immediately.