Serves | 30 |

Polenta Cakes

  • 4 Tbsp butter (approximate), divided, plus more for greasing dish
  • 1½ Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup whole or 2-percent milk
  • 1½ cups quick-cooking polenta
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (approximate)

Wild Mushrooms*

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (approximate)
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, caps only (stems aren't edible), cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup crimini mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup oyster mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup good-quality dry red wine
  • Parmesan, for garnish

| Preparation - Polenta Cakes | Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large saucepan. Add thyme and sauté for 2 minutes. Add stock and milk. Bring to a slight boil. Slowly add polenta while whisking vigorously and continuously to prevent lumps. After polenta is fully incorporated, add Parmesan, salt and pepper. Polenta will be very thick. Remove from heat and fold in the pumpkin purée.

Butter an 11x14-inch baking dish. Put mixture into baking dish and spread evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, run a knife around the polenta and turn the dish upside down on a cutting board to unmold. Cut into 2-inch squares. Then cut squares diagonally to make triangles.

Heat olive oil and remaining butter in a sauté pan. Fry about 4 to 5 polenta triangles at a time until each side is golden brown. (You may have to add more oil and butter to the pan occasionally.) Remove to a cooling rack and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

| Preparation - Wild Mushrooms | Heat a large sauté pan on medium-high. Add butter and olive oil. When heated through, add mushrooms and sear on all sides until golden brown and caramelized. If pan gets dry, add another Tbsp of olive oil. Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Sauté until garlic is soft. Add red wine and simmer until reduced. Let cool.

| To Assemble | Arrange polenta cakes on a platter. Top with sautéed mushrooms. Garnish with some of the red-wine reduction and freshly grated Parmesan.

*Hen of the woods, chanterelle, black trumpet and lobster mushrooms are also in season during the fall. Check specialty stores and farmers' markets for seasonal mushroom varieties.

More Feast Magazine | Inspired Midwest food culture covering St. Louis, Kansas City and mid-Missouri articles.