This is a great appetizer. Easy to make although it takes about 30 minutes total time. The rich Blue Cheese and flavorful Parmesan are en excellent complement to the earthy Shiitake mushrooms.
The addition of the “fortified” Madeira wine provides a natural sweetness that makes this dish unique.
2 cups plus ½ cup boiling water
½ cup medium-ground polenta
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon fresh rosemary (chopped fine)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
2 shallots (sliced thin)
1 pound Shiitake mushrooms (trim off woody stems)
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
¼ to 1/3 cup Madeira
3 tablespoons parsley (chopped fine)
¼ cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup Blue Cheese (crumbled)
Extra parsley for garnish
Fill a pan with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Bring a second saucepan with 1 cup water to a simmer, cover, and set aside (I use my stovetop tea kettle for this). Whisk polenta, salt, pepper, and herbs into the first pan of boiling water. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring continually until polenta thickens and begins to bubble. Stir in a 1/4 cupful of the simmering water to the polenta and cook while continuing to stir until absorbed. Repeat with remaining water until polenta is soft and creamy. Add more water, ¼ cup at a time, if necessary. Cover polenta and keep warm over very low heat.
Heat oil with 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, add shallots and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt, pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the Madeira and parsley and cook until liquid is evaporated, about 3 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and set aside.
Stir the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and all of the Parmesan into polenta and divide it among 4 bowls.
To serve, top polenta with mushroom mixture, blue cheese and a sprig of parsley. Bring to the table while still hot.