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Eating In: Making Green Zebra's Grilled Wild Mushrooms, silky white corn polenta and herb emulsion

By Kevin Grzyb in Food on Aug 5, 2005 7:10PM

Not long ago Chicagoist was taken to Green Zebra, the second Chicago restaurant from chef/owner Shawn McClain (Trio alum & executive chef/owner of Wicker Park’s Spring). Green Zebra – named after Chicagoist’s favorite heirloom tomato variety (oh, yes…we’ll be seeing the tomatoes soon, oh so very soon… giggle…titter…drool) Sorry. We get excited. Known predominately for its veggicentric menu (but have no fear they also included a few carniverous offerings when we were there), the restaurant has become a destination for vegetarians looking for haute cuisine. We had a dish that was just a fantastic combination of flavors and textures, so we made it at home, with some variations.

First off, because not everyone has access to wild mushrooms, or may be a little afraid of the strange fungi and their higher price, we went with shrooms that are available at a reasonable price in most stores. We started with portabellas, crimini, and shitakes.

The first piece of prep is to cut off the stems and slice the gills from the underside of the portabellas. Then toss the shrooms in olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Now, start the coals, or shudder gas grill

Then start the polenta, we bought polenta in bulk and cooked 1 cup (we wanted leftovers) of yellow polenta (we didn't feel like chasing down white) in 5 cups of free range chicken stock for 20 minutes on a simmer. In the end, the chicken flavor was stronger than we prefer, so next time it'll be two and a half cups stock and two and a half cups cups water, or 2/2/1 = stock/water/white wine.

Grill up the mushrooms, they'll cook pretty quickly, so keep an eye on them.

Transfer some of the cooked polenta into a small bowl and, because the recipe says "silky" and we all know "silky" means add fat, mix in two pats of butter.

For the plating, put a circle of polenta on a plate and pile up the grilled mushrooms on top. Green Zebra also drizzles an herb emulsion around the polenta, which we skipped because the herbs on the porch garden are doing incredibly well this year and we just wanted to use them straight, so 8_2005_shrooms-silky.jpgwe tossed some thyme around the polenta's edge, ever so casually. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil around and over and serve. We had a really nice savignon blanc with this dish. With wine this will cost you less than twenty-five bucks to serve four as an entree. It will be more if you step up to more exotic mushrooms. Enjoy.