Portobello with Polenta
This hefty first course is at the height of flavor. The Portobello mushroom and jumbo shrimp are first marinated, then grilled. Pecorino polenta rounds and a pheasant sausage link add even more appeal to this appetizer.
- Portobello mushroom caps - 4 large
- Shrimp - 4 jumbo, peeled and deveined, tail left on
- Pheasant sausage link - 4 (alt. any game or mild sausage)
- Red Wine - 1 cup
- Virgin olive oil - 3/4 cup
- Garlic - 2 teaspoons, minced
- Fresh basil - 1 tablespoon, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Whole Milk - 4-1/4 cups
- Polenta (course yellow cornmeal) - 1 cup
- Clarified Butter (see Cooking Basics) - 1/4 cup
- Fresh parmesan cheese - 1/4 cup, grated
- Pecorino cheese - 1/4 cup, grated
- Veal Demi-Glace - 1 cup
- Peppercorns - 1 tablespoon, crushed
- Fennel Sprigs - 1
- Gorgonzola cheese - 12 ounces, crumbled
- Edible Flowers - 12, such as marigolds, pansies
To prepare the marinade: In a small mixing bowl, combine red wine, olive oil, garlic, and basil; season with salt and pepper. Place Portobello mushrooms and shrimp into marinade, turn to coat, and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
To cook the mushrooms, shrimp, and sausage: Light a fire in a grill. Oil the grill rack. When ready, place the rack over the coals and let heat. When hot, sear the mushroom, top side down, to create grill marks, then turn and grill until juices start to come out. Remove and set aside; keep warm. Grill the sausage links until cooked through, taking care not to overcook. Remove and keep warm. Grill the shrimp just until opaque; remove and keep warm.
To prepare the polenta: Butter a sheet pan. In a large saucepan over medium high heat, bring the milk to boil; add polenta and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to mediumlow. Simmer until the polenta has absorbed all of the milk and is thick and creamy in texture. Add clarified butter; stir until melted. Spread polenta out onto the prepared sheet pan. Sprinkle cheeses over top; place refrigerate until set.
To make the sauce: Heat the demi-glace and peppercorns in a saute pan over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in 10 to 12 bits of fennel leaves.
To serve: With a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut 4 polenta rounds. Cut four more rounds using a 2-1/2-inch cutter. Place a Portobello mushroom in center of each heatproof serving plate. Put one large polenta round on each, then top with a small polenta round., Stand a shrimp on top of each. Slice the sausage link on the diagonal into thirds; place 3 around outer edge of each plate. Sprinkle with gorgonzola crumbles; drizzle plate with sauce. Place appetizer under preheated broiler until golden brown. Garnish with bits of fennel and edible flowers.