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For the polenta:
• 2 cups vegetable stock
• 2 cups milk
• 1 cup cornmeal
• approx. 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
For the stew:
• 1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped (or two smaller regular onions)
• 3 medium Portobello mushrooms, rough chopped
• olive oil for sauteing veggies
• 1 large clove garlic, minced
• 1 Tbs fresh chopped thyme (optional)
• approx. 12 large spears asparagus
• 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
• 2 cups vegetable or mushroom stock
• salt and pepper to taste
1. To make the polenta, combine 2 cups milk and 2 cups vegetable stock in a deep, heavy bottomed stainless steel pot and bring it up to a simmer.
2. At that point slowly whisk in 1 cup of cornmeal, turn the heat to the lowest setting and stir that occasionally with a wooden spoon as it is cooking along.
3. While you're keeping your eye on the polenta, use a large heavy bottomed pot with a splash of olive oil to saute 1 medium chopped Vidalia onion and 2 large or 3 medium chopped Portobello mushrooms to soften.
4. At some point you'll need to peel and mince 1 large clove of garlic and chop 1 Tbs of fresh thyme, if you're using it, and cut your asparagus crosswise into bite size pieces. You can lightly peel the asparagus first if it is on the thick side to begin with.
5. Once the mushrooms and onions have softened up, add the garlic, thyme and asparagus and cook that along for a couple of minutes.
6. Then sprinkle on 2 Tbs all-purpose flour and stir that in and cook that along for a couple of minutes.
7. At that point add 2 cups vegetable broth, or 2 cups of mushroom broth instead for a deeper mushroom flavor, and bring that up to a simmer. Let it cook along and thicken up a bit.
8. As far as the polenta goes, when that is soft to the tooth, add about 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, stir that in and turn the heat off.
HINTS: Substitute fresh tarragon for the thyme if you like.
: Chef Dan Eaton spent his early years on a dairy farm in Vermont where he developed a fondness for foods "straight from the land." Cooking seasonally was more of a necessity then but Dan still finds local ingredients, in season, a driving force behind his menu creations.