HAPPY NEW YEAR'S! Wishing all of you the best in 2019...
Yesterday was our 32nd (!) annual New Year's Day Brunch. Two of our regulars, unfortunately, were in France and not celebrating with us this year (unfortunate for us, not for them ;) We ended up being a group of eleven.
This year's menu took on somewhat of an Italian theme. I've been on a polenta kick recently, making pork ragu with polenta for Christmas dinner. Yesterday, I switched out the pork for a mushroom ragu with marsala. Of course, I hoped it would be good, but I was not expecting how good! Right now I cannot remember an entrée that I loved as much as this. If you're in need of a supreme, comforting meal anytime soon, make this!
The drinks table... Prosecco and orange juice, always.
To start off...
Four of my favorite attendees...
I used cremini, oyster, and shiitake mushrooms, a total of 3 pounds, for the ragu; enough to feed 12.
Dessert was an Italian Trifle with Marsala syrup. The sponge cake was baked with fresh orange zest ( recipe HERE )
recipe, adapted, from Giada De Laurentis
+ The recipe below will feed 4 persons, although the original recipe says 6 persons. For my brunch, I tripled this recipe to feed 12, using slightly less broth (4-4 3/4 cups) in the process.
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 pound mixed mushrooms (cremini, oyster, shiitake) chopped
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup Marsala
• 2 cups chicken broth (if tripling this recipe, use less than 6 cups. See above)
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• 1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
• 1/2 to 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
In a large skillet heat the oil. When almost smoking, add the onions and garlic over medium-low heat until the onions have wilted, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Raise heat to high and saute until mushrooms are tender and all the liquid has evaporated. Remove pan from heat and pour in Marsala. Return pan to stove and allow wine to evaporate, about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth and simmer for 1/2 hour until the sauce has reduced by half. Add heavy cream and mix well. Take the pan off the heat and add the fresh parsley and Parmesan and mix thoroughly.
+ adapted recipe from allrecipes.com
• 4 cups water
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup polenta
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Regianno cheese
1. Bring water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan; pour polenta slowly into boiling water, whisking constantly until all polenta is stirred in and there are no lumps.
2. Reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking often, until polenta starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Polenta mixture should still be slightly loose. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, whisking every 5 to 6 minutes. Polenta is done when texture is creamy and the individual grains are tender.
3. Turn off heat and gently stir butter into polenta until butter partially melts; mix 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese into polenta until cheese has melted. Stir and taste for salt before transferring to bowls. Top with Mushroom Ragu and serve.
This is usually the way it goes...
Two, maybe three, or even four months before New Years Day, I start thinking about the brunch menu. I piece together the different courses, in my head, of what I'm going to prepare for the first day of the new year. I'm confident about all of the details, so... I stop thinking about it. That, however, never seems to be the New Year's Day brunch menu I end up preparing. At the last minute I usually change everything.
I hosted a time consuming luncheon plus a dinner the week between Christmas and New Years... I ended up taking a more relaxed approach to my brunch. Below are photos of New Year's Day and the recipe for our main course.
Bisous taking a break while the rest of us are eating our meal...