Whip up this recipe for cheesy Polenta, topped with herbed mushrooms

Ingredients
½ cup polenta (available at all big supermarkets)
1 cup milk
2 cups water
1 sachet liquid chicken stock (Woolies or Ina Paarman’s is perfect.)
1 tbs butter
½ cup grated fresh parmesan or pecorino
¼ tsp salt
400g mushrooms (I used 250g portabellini for its rich earthiness and 150g shimeji for the pretty)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tbs olive oil
2 heaped tablespoons salted butter
1 tbs flatleaf parsley, chopped
1½ tbs fresh lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
extra parmesan for serving

How to
Add the milk, water and chicken stock to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. As soon as the water boils, pour in the polenta, whisking as you pour – a balloon whisk works best for this. (You will initially think there is far too much liquid, but the polenta is a super sponge and you want the polenta soft and velvety anyway.) Cover, turn heat to its lowest setting and cook for 10 minutes. Stir a few times.

Fry the mushrooms while the polenta is cooking. Start by adding the oil to the pan. As soon as it’s warm, add the butter, garlic and thyme and fry for 30 seconds. Add the chopped mushrooms. (For visual interest, I don’t chop them all the same. I slice, halve and quarter. The pretty littles ones, like shimeji, I leave whole.) If the pan gets too dry, add a bit more butter. Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the parsley, lemon juice and zest and stir through. Give it a big pinch of black pepper and salt to taste. The butter is salty, but you will need extra salt, remember salt is flavour!

Stir a tbs of butter and the parmesan into the polenta.I added a quarter teaspoon of salt as well, but first taste and add a bit at a time because your butter or stock may be saltier than mine. Dish the mushrooms on the polenta. For the pretty and the fresh add another generous pinch of parsley and grating of lemon zest to the mushrooms. Serve immediately with extra cheese on the side.

Recipe by Lizet Hartley, courtesy of Melkkos & Merlot, a bilingual blog about food.

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