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Mushroom-Stuffed Butternut Squash with Madeira Broth and Creamy Polenta

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Ingredients for Squash

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash the outside of squash to remove and dirt; pat dry. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Brush inside of squash with olive oil, lightly season with salt and pepper and and place inside down on a cookie sheet lightly brushed with olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes to one hour (depends on the size of squash) until outside of squash feels soft when pressed from the outside. Set aside to cool. Carefully scoop seeds from squash and set aside.

Ingredients for Mushrooms

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ to 2 lbs. small, button, crimini or other mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup Madeira*
  • ½ cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped, fresh sage
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 or 4 grinds of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives or finely chopped parsley; to garnish final plate
  • White truffle oil (optional)

Wipe any excess dirt from outside of mushrooms and set aside to dry. In a large saucepan, heat oil until very hot. Add whole mushrooms, garlic, and shallots, tossing frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes. Add Madeira, cream, blue cheese, sage, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, then simmer until sauce has thickened, stirring regularly to incorporate and melt all the cheese.

Ingredients for the Polenta

  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
  • 2 tablespoons organic olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 ½ cup instant polenta
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
  • 8 oz. cream cheese

While squash and mushrooms are cooking, place cream and broth on stovetop in a heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. In another, large saucepan, bring stock to a boil in medium saucepan. Add olive oil and garlic. Slowly add polenta, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes for the instant or 15 minutes for the regular polenta. Polenta is done when it begins to come off sides of pan. Add the thyme, Parmesan, and cream cheese and continue cooking, stirring constantly to keep polenta from burning or sticking to pan. Cook polenta until completely smooth, but thick. Remove from heat and set aside.

To Plate

Pour the polenta into the middle of a large, shallow, serving platter. Place squash halves in the middle of the polenta. Divide and spoon mushrooms into the center of each half of the squash. It’s OK if the mushrooms spill over the sides of the squash. Garnish platter with chives and a few drops of truffle oil.

*Madeira is a fortified wine, produced in the Madeira Islands; varieties may be sweet or dry. It has a history dating back to the Age of Exploration when Madeira was a standard port of call for ships heading to the New World or East Indies. To prevent the wine from spoiling, neutral grape spirits were added. However, wine producers of Madeira discovered, when an unsold shipment of wine returned to the islands after a round trip, that the flavor of the wine had been transformed by exposure to heat and movement. Today, Madeira is noted for its unique winemaking process which involves heating the wine and deliberately exposing the wine to some levels of oxidation.

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