Novak Djokovic's Crispy Mushroom Polenta

At the tennis star's Monaco restaurant Eqvita, Head Chef Erik Bozic serves up the pro's go-to side dish

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Photo: Victor Protasio

At the tennis star’s Monaco restaurant Eqvita, Head Chef Erik Bozic serves up the pro’s go-to side dish


¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 oz. portobello mushroom caps, gills removed, finely chopped
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. smoked paprika
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup uncooked instant polenta
1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1¾ tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 tsp. black pepper, divided
1 lb. oyster mushrooms
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 cups loosely packed watercress

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add portobellos, and fry, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in thyme and paprika.

2. Bring stock to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat; gradually whisk in polenta. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in portobello mixture, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Wipe skillet clean, and set aside.

3. Pour polenta mixture into a greased 8-inch-square baking pan, and smooth top. Press a sheet of plastic wrap lightly sprayed with cooking spray directly on polenta, and chill until firm, about 2 hours.

4. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cut polenta mixture into 8 (4×2-inch) rectangles. Add polenta, in batches, to hot oil, and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes per side. Remove to plate.

5. Wipe skillet clean; add 4 tablespoons oil, and heat over medium-high. Add oyster mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper; remove from heat.

6. Whisk together lemon juice and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small bowl. Toss watercress with 1½ tablespoons vinaigrette. To serve, place 2 polenta rectangles on a plate; top each with ¼ cup oyster mushrooms and ¼ cup dressed watercress. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette, if desired.

Serves: 4
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 2 hours, 45 minutes (includes chilling)
Food HACK: For a quicker, creamier version of this recipe, omit the cooling and frying (steps 3 and 4). After cooking the polenta (step 2), move directly to sautéing the oyster mushrooms (step 5).

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