Grains and Grains

For Fathers’ Day, I bought some different grains for my husband.  Then I gave him recipes to choose.  The cooking was part of the gift.

One of his top picks was a recipe for Amaranth Polenta with Wild Mushrooms.  I finally made this today.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c dried mushroom
  • 1 T unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 c finely chopped shallots
  • 1 c amaranth
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

Prep:

  1. boil water and add 1 3/4 c boiling water to dried mushrooms. Set aside until mushrooms are soft.
  2. Heat butter in heavy saucepan.
  3. Add shallot and cook until soft
  4. Add amaranth to saucepan.
  5. Add mushrooms and soaking liquid
  6. Boil
  7. Cover and reduce heat
  8. Simmer for 15 minutes
  9. Add salt, pepper, and thyme
  10. Cook an additional 15 minutes, covered, until amaranth is porridge-like.

Well, as always, I changed a few things.

First, I didn’t use dried mushrooms, I used baby portabella mushrooms.Second, after covering for the first 15 minutes, I removed the lid, added the seasoning, and kept the lid off.  I added additional water, 1/4 c at a time as needed.

I thought that this recipe was completely tasteless.  It seemed that the amaranth sucked the flavor from the olive oil, onions, and garlic I used.  – I substituted sweet onions and garlic for shallots as I was out of shallots.

Now, if I had used porcini mushrooms as prescribed in the original recipe, I may not have encountered the issue of no flavor.  To remedy this, I added more thyme ( I didn’t have fresh thyme so I used dried, but I added double the amount) and I added rosemary.

I think because I added small amounts of water through the cooking process that I ended up with a smoother, creamier texture than I would have had I followed directions.  But I would have ended up with a better flavor if I had used stronger tasting mushrooms.  Other than dried black Chinese mushrooms, I’ve never used dried mushrooms.  I think I would used chicken or beef base in this instead of the dried mushrooms to achieve a stronger flavor.

It is yummy.  Possibly the best use of amaranth that I have found.  I bought amaranth before and didn’t care for it.  It has a grass-y flavor that I can’t get past.  I used it as a side and in bread.  This is the first time I’ve enjoyed it.  This recipe, with some tweaks, is definitely a keeper.

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