Recipe of the Month
Heart-Shaped Polenta Bites with Caramelized Mushrooms
For the polenta:
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
Cook the polenta: In a medium, heavy pot over high heat bring the cream, stock, salt, and nutmeg to a boil. Add the polenta gradually, whisking constantly. When the mixture thickens, switch to a wooden spoon and adjust the heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cook, stirring often, until thick, smooth, and creamy, about 15 minutes. Add the Parmesan and stir. Keep the polenta warm over low heat, stirring occasionally. If the polenta gets dry as it sits, stir in about 1/4 cup of warm stock or cream.
For the mushrooms:
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 pound button, cremini mushrooms, or wild mushrooms cut into quarters
- Finely ground salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley leaves, for garnish
Saute the mushrooms: In a medium skillet over high heat, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, sprinkle in the mushrooms in a single layer. Don't stir them! Let them sizzle until they have caramelized on the bottom, about 2 minutes. When the bottoms are caramelized, toss them once and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Continue to cook without stirring for about 5 minutes. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper. Add the butter and cook until it begins to brown, then add the garlic. Continue to cook until the garlic begins to brown. Add the thyme and cook for about 10 seconds. Add the lemon juice and cook until the liquid evaporates. Add the wine, and simmer until the mushrooms are glazed with the sauce. Add the parsley. Keep sauce on the lowest simmer setting.
For the Heartlets:
Make the polenta according to above instructions. Just before the polenta is finished thickening, pour 3/4 of the mushroom sauce into the polenta, stir. Make sure to reserve 1/4 the sauce to pour over the top of each heart. Pour the polenta onto a greased, rimmed baking sheet. Set aside to cool and firm up, about 30 minutes.
To assemble: Using a 2-inch diameter heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut the polenta into heart shapes, about 24, and place them on a serving platter
Place 1 heart on a plate, place about 1/2 teaspoon of the reserved mushrooms on top of the polenta. Garnish with grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.
Happy Valentines Day!