Polenta with Mushrooms and Shallots

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Use whatever mushrooms you find in the markets for this great cold-weather supper. The cheese could be any kind that’s rich and nutty, but fresh thyme makes all the difference. SAM & HARRY

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 pound shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 pound forest mushrooms, brushed and thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 cup instant polenta
3 cups water, plus additional for thinning
2 tablespoon grated Gruyere cheese, divided
2 tablespoons crème fraîche, plus additional for garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Chopped parsley

In a large chef’s pan over low heat, sweat the shallots in 1 tablespoon oil, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the mushrooms, thyme, and bay leaf and sauté until the mushroom is reduced, about 10 minutes. Add the sherry and reduce, about 2 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and thyme.

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring to a boil 3 cups lightly salted water. Remove from the heat and slowly whisk in the polenta. Return the pan to medium-low heat and cook until creamy, stirring frequently and adding cold water as necessary, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of Gruyère and the crème fraîche. Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with the mushroom mixture. Garnish with additional Gruyere, crème fraîche, and parsley.
Makes two servings.

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