12.29.2007

Happy New Year: Sun dried Tomato Polenta Bites w/ Roasted Garlic Brie & Cremini Mushrooms


Sun dried Tomato Polenta Bites w/ Roasted Garlic Brie & Cremini Mushrooms

A lot of flavor packed into a bite size appetizer. Polenta is an Italian specialty that can be served many ways.
Fresh, hot Polenta makes an excellent side to many hearty dishes, such as roasted chicken, braised beef, Osso Bucco, and is especially tasty with a perfectly cooked piece of salmon or sea bass. Polenta sets up quickly if poured into a mold. For this appetizer we will pour the Polenta into a rectangular casserole and refrigerate.

Be sure to buy dry Polenta or yellow corn grits, Bob's Red Mill makes a nice coarsely ground Polenta.
Yields 50-60 pieces.


ROASTED GARLIC BRIE CHEESE
1 bulb garlic
1 wedge brie cheese ( approx. 1/2 lb)
1 tsp olive oil
pinch sea salt
I use my toaster oven, since it is only one bulb.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut the top off bulb of garlic to reveal tops of cloves. Drizzle with 1 tblsp of olive oil.
Wrap bulb in foil, pinch foil shut at top of bulb loosely, to let some steam escape. Roast bulb for
35-45 minutes or until garlic is soft and golden brown. Open top of foil, wrap a kitchen towel around
foil to protect your hands from the heat. Squeeze firmly over a bowl to release garlic.
Mash brie cheese and roasted garlic together, add olive oil and sea salt. Set aside.

POLENTA
6 cups organic free range chicken broth
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups Polenta (Corn Grits)
3 tblsp Butter
2 cups Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese grated
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
Fresh ground pepper

Grate cheese and set aside. In a food processor, pulse sun dried tomatoes until chopped very fine, set aside.
Bring 6 cups chicken broth to a boil with sea salt. Slowly add Polenta and stir. Lower heat to simmer and stir very frequently for 25-30 minutes or until Polenta is very thick. It should be very hard to stir and pulling away from the saucepan when done. Turn off heat.

Add butter to Polenta, stir in grated cheese and sun dried tomatoes. Add a few grinds of fresh black pepper.
Pour into an oiled 15" X 10" casserole dish. (You can also use a sheet cake pan) Spread evenly and smooth with wet fingers if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap. Poke a few holes in the plastic wrap to let moisture escape as it cools. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

MUSHROOM TOPPING
1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup sweet onion, minced
4 tblsp butter
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp aged balsamic vinegar

Over medium - high heat in a large saute pan, saute onion in butter until lightly golden (about 5 minutes), add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are dark golden brown. De-glaze pan with red wine, add balsamic vinegar. Saute until wine and vinegar are absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add sea salt and pepper to taste, turn off heat and set aside.

ASSEMBLE

After Polenta mixture has become firm (3 hours in refrigerator), spread roasted garlic brie cheese on top of the firm Polenta. With a sharp, thin knife, slice Polenta into 50-60 square pieces. Top each piece with 1 tsp of the mushroom mixture. Place in a small cupcake paper or on assemble on a platter. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. For best flavor, let Polenta bites come to room temperature before serving.
SPECIAL Presentation- take these delicious bites one step further by sauteing them in olive oil until the bottoms are crisp and golden brown, an entirely different flavor erupts from the Polenta, as the flavors of sun-dried tomato and roasted garlic are heightened. They will be devoured!

Excellent with meaty Cabernet Sauvignon or inky Syrah.

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A dedicated foodie, with a passion for the best food. Favorite food crushes include; Cheese, Wine, Breads, Seafood, anything made with eggs, ...there's actually no point in a list, there isn't much out there I don't have a crush on. Transplanted from the Northeast at age 18, a whole new frontier of food was opened up to me. I have fished for Salmon, hunted for mushrooms, cracked open fresh oysters from the sea and devoured them on the spot. Figs, pears, peaches, so many indigenous jewels! I dedicate this BLOG to the endless variety this region provides. My hope is to live here for a very long time & continue to discover and experience it's unique bounty! Alas, my life has now taken me to Cincinnati, OH where the food culture is like none I have ever experienced.

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