Grilled Mushrooms with Polenta and Fonduta di Cambozola

VP, Marketing Cynthia Lohr loves this appetizer for its simplicity and ease-of- preparation, not to mention its ability to appeal to the three generations in her family!  She’s also a closet lover of mushrooms, whose flavors contrast nicely with the soft berry finish of the Fog’s Reach Pinot Noir.

Fonduta de Cambozola:

  • ½ head of roasted garlic, peeled and mashed
  • 5 oz of Cambozola cheese
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 4 triangles polenta, prepared for grilling (recipe below)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ pound porcini, chanterelles, or portabella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 2 t chives, chopped

Polenta preparation for grilling:

  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup polenta
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 t olive oil

Bring the water to boil in a large saucepan.  Add the polenta in a thin stream, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and scraping the sides and bottom of the pot, until the mixture is thick and bubbly.  Remove pot from the heat and stir in the salt and cheese.  Pour the mixture into a lightly oiled 8 X 8 inch baking pan and let it cool to room temperature (this can be prepared the day before and refrigerated).

Turn the cold polenta out onto a cutting board and cut it into four equal squares, then cut each square into two triangles.

Putting it all together:
Prepare a medium-hot fire in an open or covered grill.  If you don’t already have some roasted garlic on hand, place a whole head near the edge of the heat while the fire is getting ready for cooking.  Roast until the outer cloves are quite soft.  Let it cool enough to handle then slice it in half crosswise, squeeze out half of the cloves, and mash them with a fork.

For the fonduta, scrape the white rind off the cheese and cut the cheese into small cubes.  Whisk the cream and garlic together in a skillet over medium heat; bring just to a boil, reduce slightly, and stir in the cheese a little at a time, whisking until smooth.  Keep warm.

Brush the polenta pieces with a little oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill, starting with the bumpy side down, until heated through and lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side.  As they are done, move them to the edge of the grill to keep them warm, or to warmed plates.  Oil and season the mushroom slices and grill them over the hottest part of the fire until tender and nicely browned, 2 to 4 minutes per side.  To serve, place a piece of polenta on each plate, arrange mushroom slices on top, and spoon the fonduta over all.  Garnish with chives.

Serves 4

Raisin Braised Pork Shoulder with Gruyere Potato Gratin

EVP/COO and Director of Winemaking Jeff Meier savored this recipe when J. Lohr participated in an unprecedented competition, the National Pork Board’s Celebrated Chefs Alumni Summit.  This flavorful pork shoulder was the winning recipe from Celebrated Chefs Todd Downs and Robert Merrifield, which Jeff Meier prepared one holiday to the delight of our winery employees.  The winning chefs contributed a $5,000 check made in their name to Sri Lanka Relief Fund for Matara, a tsunami relief fund started by 2003 Celebrated Chef Kumar Wickramasingha, a native of Sri Lanka.  While the recipe uses a bottle of J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot as a base for its braising liquid, it also pairs beautifully with the Merlot-based J. Lohr Cuvée POM.


Pork Shoulder:

  • 2 quarts pork stock
  • 1 bottle J. Lohr Estates Los Osos Merlot
  • 2 cups tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups commercially prepared raisin paste
  • ½ cup fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2T garlic, chopped
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 ½ lbs pork shoulder, boneless
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil

Virginia Peanut, Peach, Golden Raisin & Mint Relish:

  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup Sherry, warmed
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 peaches, diced
  • 1 cup Virginia peanuts, toasted, chopped
  • 2T green onions, sliced
  • ½ T fresh mint, chopped

Gruyere Leek-Potato Gratin:

  • 4 Idaho potatoes
  • 5 cups whipping cream
  • 3T garlic, chopped
  • 1t dried mustard
  • ½ t nutmeg
  • 1/8 t Cayenne pepper
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 leek, white and light green sections only, sliced
  • 4 T butter
  • 8 oz Gruyere cheese, grated

Cremini Mushroom Spinach & Red Onion Sauté:

  • 4 oz bacon, diced
  • 4 oz Cremini Mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, julienned
  • 8 oz fresh spinach
  • ½ cup chives, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine pork stock, merlot, tomatoes, raisin paste, rosemary, garlic, and bay leaf in a stockpot. Simmer over medium heat until mixture is reduced by half.

Meanwhile, cut pork into eight 3-ounce slices. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the pork and brown it well.

Pour liquid mixture over the browned pork in the sauté pan (there will be a lot of liquid). Cover the pork with parchment, and seal the pan with foil. Transfer to the oven to braise for 2 hours or until fork-tender.

While the pork is braising, prepare the relish: Steep the raisins in sherry for 30 minutes. Drain, and discard the sherry.

Combine the brown sugar and vinegar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peaches and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the drained raisins, chopped peanuts, onion, and mint; mix well. Reserve at room temperature.
When pork is done, remove it from the oven and set it aside until serving time. Increase oven temperature to 400°.

Peel the potatoes and slice 1/8-inch thick. (Do not rinse.) Set aside.

In a large, heavy pot, bring cream to a boil. Add the garlic, dry mustard, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper and mix well. Add the sliced potatoes and simmer briskly until tender. Drain cream from potatoes and reserve.

In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, sauté the leeks in butter until tender. Set aside.

In a non-stick baking dish, spread the cooked potatoes in an even layer. Scatter the sautéed leeks evenly over potatoes, and top with the grated cheese. Pour the reserved cream over gratin, and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Prepare the spinach sauté: Render bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and onions; sauté until tender. Add spinach, cook 1 minute to wilt, and remove from heat.

To Serve:
Place a mound of the spinach mixture in the center of a large plate. Cut the potatoes from the pan using a 3” round cutter. Top spinach with the potato round. Place 2 pieces of pork on the potatoes, and drizzle each plate with 1 ounce of the braising liquid. Top each serving with a generous spoonful of Peanut Relish. Sprinkle with chives. Serve.

Serves 4

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