Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Marked-down mushrooms

While I normally steer clear of marked-down produce, this bag of mushrooms appealed to me. They were bruised and broken, the bits left at the bottom of the bins in Monterey Market's mushroom aisle, cleared out to make way for fresher specimens.

This mix had cremini, porcini, shiitake, and portobello mushrooms, which I use semi-regularly, plus the strange and lovely varieties I don't usually get because they're pricey and I'm not sure what to do with them: lobsters, chanterelles, oysters, shimejis, and others I can't identify.

At home, I rinsed them off (I know many people say not to, but they were dirty and I knew I'd be cooking them down), photographed them, and then debated what to make with them.

Initially I planned to saute them in a little butter, slowly cook them down, and toss them with a whole-grain pasta. While I think that would have been delicious, I've also been wanting to try and come up with a vegetarian stock with more umami and less sweetness than most of the root vegetable-based ones I've tried.

Consulted a half-dozen recipes, averaged them, and dumped the mushrooms into the stockpot with a little butter, salt, and a few cups of water. Simmered a while, realized I should have chopped them more finely, and used the immersion blender to remedy that. Re-consulted the internet and realized that the woody shiitake mushroom stems shouldn't really be eaten, but were now too finely blended with the other bits to really pick out. Simmered some more and strained, saving the liquid for soup and putting the squeezed-out solids into a bowl with the idea that I might make duxelles.

Mushroom duxelles

Mince up a bunch of mushroom bits, stems, etc.
Saute in butter with some chopped-up shallots or onions
Mix in a little cream, if you like
It should have a thick, spreadable consistency
Stuff into ravioli, spread it on toast, eat it with a spoon... you get the idea