Intense flavour mushrooms – dried and fresh

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This is an intense earthy sweet mushroom dish which can be used any which way you so wish.  You can add stock to it and turn it into soup, you can make pasta sauce or serve with grilled polenta, or  evaporate the liquid and serve them on bruschetta/crostini, or use them as a base for risotto.  They are delicious served simply as they are with crusty bread.

A packet of dried porcini is fine but cheaper and better is a packet of mixed dried mushroom which contain some shiitake mushrooms along with porcini and oyster.  Shiitake mushrooms contain a high percentage of umami flavour. Dried shiitake are on the chewier side than the other two, and for that reason it is good to have the oyster and porcini for different texture.

For me thyme has an affinity with mushrooms but they are also good with sage, oregano, marjoram.

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Soak the dried mixed mushrooms in hot water for 30mins.

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This liquid was pretty clear but with some dried mushroom packets can contain quite a bit of grit that will end up in the bottom of the bowl, make sure to discard the grit.

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The stalks from the shiitake I discard as I find it too chewy.  The rest of the stalks I separate from the caps and chop very finely.

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There is a classic combination of mushrooms and Madeira wine, a fortified wine from the island of Madeira, but I also like sweet Marsala or as I have used here, white port.

My alcohol cupboard will always have Port since I was born 20 miles from Porto.  This white port is medium dry, a light coloured medium dry sherry would be a good substitute.

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Soften the onion in a frying pan, either olive oil or for a richer taste a mixture of oil and butter, make sure to soften the onions until they have become translucent and are turning the colour of pale caramel.  Add the dried mushrooms and thyme and stir them well.  Add the alcohol if using and let it boil for a minute.  Add the reserved liquid from the dried mushrooms.

Add the fresh mushrooms in two batches letting the first batch cook down before adding the second because they may not fit the pan. Keep stirring as if for stir-fry to stop the onions from burning.  It will seem as if the pan is too dry but eventually the heat will bring out the moisture in the mushrooms.  Season well with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.

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You want to have the heat quite hot to start collapsing those mushrooms but not so it will burn your onions.  Once the mushrooms have  shrunk and some of their juice has evaporated, you can add cream to make a sauce.

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Using the mushrooms

Decide what the mushrooms are going to be used for and how much of the sauce is going to be to evaporate.  If using this for soup or the base of another dish containing liquid then leave it and add stock for soup, and so on.  If wanting to use it for the bases of a risotto leave it and start your risotto in another pan, and once the rice has been stirred into the butter or oil you can add this mixture and cook the rice.

If serving this as topping for bruschetta or crostini keep cooking on high heat constantly stirring until the liquid has evaporated.  Stir in the finer herbs at this stage.  But if serving as a vegetable dish with crust bread to mop the sauce leave enough sauce.

 

Intense flavour mushrooms

Use any combination of fresh mushroom you like.  The same goes for the quantities, the amount I made would give enough as a sauce for pasta for two or generous servings as a side dish.

  • 1 onion or 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 30-45ml / 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil or mix of butter and oil
  • 1/4  of a 40g packet (1/4 cup) dried mixed mushrooms, containing shiitake & porcini.  Soaked in 1 cup hot water for 30mins, reserve the soaking liquid.  Chop mushroom, stalks very finely.
  • 1 small pack, about 8-10 small button mushrooms
  • 1 packet of portobello or open cup mushrooms, about 4 or 5 medium size ones
  • 2-3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 30-45ml / 2-3 tablespoons of white Port,  sherry or marsala or Madeira are all good substitutes, optional
  • 30-45ml / 2-3 tablespoons of cream or dairy-free cream, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • freshly milled black pepper

Soften the onion in a frying pan, either olive oil or for a richer taste a mixture of oil and butter, make sure to soften the onions until they have become translucent and are turning the colour of pale caramel.  Add the dried mushrooms and thyme and stir them well.  Add the alcohol if using and let it boil for a minute.  Add the reserved liquid from the dried mushrooms.

Add the fresh mushrooms in two batches letting the first batch cook down before adding the second because they may not fit the pan. Keep stirring as if for stir-fry to stop the onions from burning.  It will seem as if the pan is too dry but eventually the heat will bring out the moisture in the mushrooms.  season it well with salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.

You want to have the heat quite hot to start collapsing those mushrooms but not so it will burn your onions.  Once the mushrooms have  shrunk and some of their juice has evaporated, you can add cream to make a sauce.