Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Olive Tree Mail Bag #2: Three Mushroom Sauté
In this, the second installment of the Olive Tree Mail Bag, we tackle a request from Julie, who is looking for a fun vegetarian side dish that she can bring to her family's Thanksgiving dinner. I figured I'd go for a less traditional vegetable, but stick with spices that would still echo those used in the rest of the holiday dinner. After running it by Julie, I learned that she happens to love mushrooms, which is exactly what I intended to use for her dish.
Although I haven't found any evidence to support this, I am convinced that mushrooms were present at the original Thanksgiving dinner. After all, they grow in the wild all over the US, (unlike other delicious Thanksgiving treats) and they make appearances in cuisines the world over. Okay, so I don't have much of a case. But trust me, mushrooms will give your family a really nice break from all of the green and orange stuff at the table.
As much as I love mushrooms on their own, I think they taste best when multiple types are cooked together. This makes for great depth of flavor and texture, in addition to adding to the languid, tangled look of the final dish. Of the mushrooms that are available in (most) grocery stores, I chose my three favorites: shitake, oyster (Julie's fave), and crimini. These all have distinctly different flavors that layer really well together, some being sweeter than others. As I mentioned earlier, the herbs and spices include traditional Thanksgiving flavors like sage and thyme, which not only work well with mushrooms, but can be found in almost every version of stuffing, and in most brands of poultry seasoning. Much to my mother's horror (we're strictly a Spanish olive oil family), I like finishing off this dish with a pat of butter. It adds some body and gives the finished dish a nice glossy sheen. What can I say, sometimes traditional French techniques creep in.
So as you can see, if you're looking for something different to add to your Thanksgiving repertoire, this is a good dish to try. Please remember that mushrooms shrink quite a bit from raw to cooked, and what you see in the photo started out as 4 cups (ending in about 2), so don't be afraid to multiply the recipe if you're cooking for a big group. Here's how to start:
3 Mushroom Sauté
4 cups mushrooms (I used shitake, oyster and crimini)
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp rosemary
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1. Thinly slice all of the mushrooms after removing stems from the shitake's and oyster's, making sure to clean any grit off with a damp paper towel. Grind all of the spices (I used dried) and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil and garlic in a medium pan. Add mushrooms, red pepper flake and the ground spices to the pan and sauté. Salt to taste. If the mixture starts to look dry, add a tablespoon of olive oil.
3. When the mushrooms are cooked through, turn off the heat and add the butter. Mix until melted and serve. Enjoy!