Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Although summer fruits are out in all their splendor, I've been passing them by as I make my way to the mushroom aisle. I've long since abandoned figuring out if my 'shroom cravings have any type of reason behind them. All I know is that if I don't give in, I'll be having mushroom dreams and those close to me will have to hear about mushrooms over, and over, and over again.
Today, I indulged in some humble crimini mushrooms. To make them a lot less humble, I added obscene (yes, obscene!) amounts of butter, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan, lemon zest, and Madeira to the mix. Oh, and pasta. I needed something to sop up all the lovely mushroom juice.
In case you get struck with a nearly unstoppable mushroom craving, the cure involves first melting some butter and olive oil over high heat. Adding olive oil to your butter keeps your butter from separating and burning. Once the fats are sizzling, toss in the sliced mushrooms and stir the mixture.
The mushrooms will start off really dry and spongy, but they will start to release liquid and shrink as heat is applied. Now is the time to get your water boiling if you want to make a pasta dish.
As the liquid evaporates, toss in the chopped garlic and continue to stir. The mushrooms will start to caramelize at the edges. At this point, pour in some liquor and scrape bottom of the pan to dissolve all the delicious caramelized mushroom and garlic bits - today's liquor of choice was a Madeira. I've also used cognac and port - other sweet options. Once the liquor has evaporated, add salt, pepper, and herbs (thyme, parsley, or lovage can make mushrooms sing).
If you are feeling especially decadent, add some cream before you turn off the heat.
Slightly undercook the pasta, reserving at least a cup of pasta water. Add he drained pasta to the mushroom mix over medium heat and stir. The pasta will quickly soak up the mushroom juice. Taste a noodle to see if it is done. If it is still hard in the middle, add a few tablespoons of pasta water, stir the dish, and check the a noodle again to see if it's cooked al dente. Repeat as necessary. Turn off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste.
To finish the dish, I like to add chopped herbs, lemon zest, and grated Parmesan over the top.