Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Ragout with Grits
Source: Frances Wilson, Chef and Culinary Educator
This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on April 2, 2016.
3 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
A few grinds of fresh black pepper
1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal (preferably Tierra Vegetables heirloom Florian Red or Bloody Butcher)
1 pound large asparagus
2 cups chicken stock
4 slices dried porcini mushrooms
1 sprig thyme
3 ounces butter, divided
1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ pound King Trumpet mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ pound assorted mushrooms (such as Pioppini, Shimeji, Brown Beech, Maitake and Nameko)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mixed herbs (such as parsley, savory, chives, marjoram)
To make the grits: Bring the water to boil in a saucepan. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the cornmeal and cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture returns to a boil and starts to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. Serve immediately or keep warm (you may need to add a little hot water to bring it back to the consistency you like, if you keep it warm for long).
To make the ragout: Trim the tough lower stems from the asparagus. Add the stems to the chicken stock, dried porcini, and thyme in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Set aside to steep. Slice the reminder of the asparagus into ¼ -inch bias-cut slices. Set aside. Heat 2 ounces of the butter in a sauté pan over low heat. Add the leeks and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook until the leeks are tender. Add the King Trumpet mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, or until they just start to wilt. If you are using Maitake mushrooms, pull them apart with your fingers until they are in bite size pieces. Add the remaining mushrooms and another ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the sliced asparagus and cook for another 2 minutes. Strain the seasoned chicken stock and add it to the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped herbs and swirl in the butter. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
To serve: Divide the grits into 4 soup bowls. Top with the mushroom ragout. You can also add a poached egg or slices of roasted chicken breast to the top of each serving, if you like.