Recipe from Tuesday Night Dinner

Recipe from Tuesday Night Dinner
Photo credit: Erica Gannett

Chef Jeremy Leven of Tuesday Night Dinner is sharing this yummy vegetarian recipe with us which embraces the end of the summer and beginning of the fall. As he says, "It lets you enjoy some of the last of the summer bounty while beginning to feel warm and homey like the autumn. In fact, to make this meal entirely vegan, all you must do is substitute the egg yolks for silken tofu in the aioli." Mushrooms are also great for vegetarians who want to eat something hearty as they do have a meat-like chewy texture.

 Seared Polenta, Forest Mushroom Ragout, & Meyer Lemon Aioli


  • For Mushroom Stock:
  • 2 cups button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup oyster mushrooms, pieces
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 head of celery
  • 3 large yellow onions
  • 3 leeks
  • 3 shallots
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • fresh bay leaf
  • fresh thyme
  • black peppercorns
  • 12 cups of water
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2 T dry sherry

For Polenta:

  • 6 cups coarse grain yellow polenta (corn meal)
  • 10-12 cups of mushroom stock
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 4 shallots, finely diced

For Ragout:

  • 8 oz king trumpet mushrooms
  • 8 oz chanterelle mushrooms
  • 4 oz velvet foot mushrooms
  • 4 oz beech mushrooms
  • 3 shallots, finely diced
  • 2 oz white balsamic vinegar
  • 6 oz Half Acre Over Ale
  • 3 oz dry sherry
  • 1 oz grapeseed oil
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • ½ pinch of ground cardamom

For Aioli:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 8 oz grapeseed oil
  • juice of 2 meyer lemons
  • zest of 2 Meyer lemons
  • ½ t garlic, minced
  • 1 t white balsamic vinegar

For Gremolata:

  • 6 oz basil, plucked
  • 2 oz mint, plucked
  • 6 oz olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • zest from 1 Meyer lemon

For Garnish:

  • 8 large king trumpet mushrooms
  • 16 oz arugula
  • a few drops of white balsamic vinegar
  • a few drops of olive oil

Make Stock. Slice carrots, onions, celery, shallots, and leeks on a bias so as much surface area is exposed as possible. Saute in stockpot for 8 minutes. Deglaze with sherry and tomato paste. Add cold water to stock pot and skim the top. Add mushrooms, garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 45 minutes. Turn off heat; add thyme for 5 minutes and strain. Keep strained stock on the stove on low heat.

Make Polenta. Add all polenta into large pot. Add enough mushroom stock to cover. Bring to a boil and begin stirring. Turn down to a simmer, add olive oil and continue stirring. As stock becomes absorbed into the polenta continue to add hot mushroom stock from your simmering stockpot. Continue stirring for 30 minutes, adding stock until all has been absorbed into the polenta. Continue stirring, not allowing the polenta to stick to the sides and in the corners of the pot. When all the mushroom stock has been absorbed, and the polenta is thick and fully cooked, pour the polenta onto cool, pre-oiled sheet trays. Allow polenta to set for several hours. Cut polenta into batons once it has cooled. Sear polenta over high heat, about 2 minutes each side and remove from heat. Salt to taste.

Make Ragout. Brunoise (finely chop) all forest mushrooms and mix in a bowl. Separate mushrooms into two batches, in order to avoid overcrowding the pan. Add half the mushrooms to a hot dry saute pan. Allow mushrooms to toast. Do not shake the pan at this stage. When the mushrooms begin to wilt and release their water, add grapeseed oil and shallots. Saute until mushrooms and shallots are cooked through, about 7 minutes. Drain any excess oil. Deglaze the pan with balsamic vinegar to au sec (dry). Repeat this process with the Half Acre Beer, and finally the dry sherry. Toss the mushrooms with thyme and cardamom. Salt to taste.

Make Aioli. Whisk together two egg yolks, balsamic vinegar, garlic, Meyer lemon juice and zest. Salt to taste. Slowly and steadily whisk in grapeseed oil until an emulsion is formed. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Make Gremolata. Finely slice (not chop) basil and mint. Combine with olive oil and lemon zest. Salt to taste.

For garnish, slice trumpet mushrooms lengthwise in quarters. Sear over very high heat for 30 seconds on each side and deglaze with sherry. Very lightly dress arugula with lemon juice, salt, and olive oil.

If you are interested in trying out Chef Leven's beautiful food check out Tuesday Night Dinner (TND). Here's what he has to say about TND:

  • TND is not a restaurant or even a club. It is a dining community. We do not have customers, only guests and participants. Anyone is welcome to participate if they are willing to embrace the idea of community.
  • At TND we try to be semi-nomadic, looking for fun and new interesting places in and out of the city to host our dinners and events. We evolve and change with our host location. For example, we have been hosting cookouts this summer at an abandoned convent and rose garden in Pilsen. More recently we have moved indoors to the cozy Den theatre for Sunday brunches.
  • If you would like a full explanation of our mission and ideals, please check out our tumblr
  • The best way to get involved with TND is via email., we are always looking for volunteers, no matter what your talent is, we would like you to be involved with TND. Volunteers will be given free food and access to the inner workings of an emerging dining scene right here in Chicago.

To see more of Erica Gannett's photography click here.



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