Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cooking Through The Walla Walla Grape Vine

If you know anything about Walla Walla wines, then you probably know that Walla Walla is also filled with talented foodies and gourmets. For the month of May, my guest gourmet and talented foodie is Anne Hull, Tasting Room and Anvil Wine Club Manager of Forgeron Cellars.

Anne often suggests special food pairings on Forgeron's wine tasting notes and is constantly discovering recipes to pair with the chosen wines for her wine club members. Annie says of the following recipe, "It is my favorite comfort food and the dish is yummo!" (And no...that isn't blue wine. It appears that she also favors Blue Hawaiians with pink umbrellas.)

Polenta with Wild Mushrooms

7 cups chicken stock
2 cups polenta
4 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus 2 TBSP unsalted butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 lb assorted wild mushrooms, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (Annie prefers cremini, portobello, & morels)
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup Madeira (a fortified wine from Portugal)
2 cups unsalted chicken broth
Fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large pot over high heat, bring the stock to a boil. Stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, add the polenta in a thin stream until blended. Continue stirring to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring constantly until the polenta is thick and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 - 40 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the 4 TBSP butter, a few cubes at a time, then stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese. Keep warm over low heat.

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 TBSP butter. Add the mushrooms and thyme and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are browned. Add the Madeira and cook, stirring, until the liquid has almost evaporated. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the polenta among 4-6 warmed bowls. Spoon the mushrooms and broth over the polenta and serve immediately, top with the remaining cheese.

Anne suggests that this earthy and comforting dish would make an excellent pairing with Forgeron Cellars 2003 Syrah - a Rhone-style with big ripe fruit that really reflects the vintage.

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