With a cold nip in the air and Thanksgiving right around the corner, mushrooms are a natural appetizer for a party or family gathering. Here is a guest recipe from Mark Leslie, author of Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family and the popular Italian food and travel blog “Beyond the Pasta.” Mark lived with an Italian family in Viterbo, Italy where he studied cooking from the grandmother (Nonna) and language from her daughter. The book includes recipes that he learned from Nonna, but as a treat to Italian Recipes, Mark has given us one of Nonna’s recipes not featured in his book ~ a very special pre-holiday bonus! Buon Appetito~
I love the woodsy flavor of mushrooms. Here is a simple way to enjoy mushrooms as an appetizer. I tend to use cremini, shitake, and button mushrooms in this recipe—but why limit yourself? Use a combination of your favorite mushrooms to make this dish truly yours!
For the topping:
½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 pound mixture of fresh mushrooms (Use any two,
three, or four combination of: cremini, button, shitake, chanterelle, woodear, oyster.)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
½ cup white or red wine (your preference)
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the bruschette:
8 ½-inch-thick slices of artisan bread (Tuscan boulle,
ciabatta, or similar)
1 large clove garlic, peeled, with stem end removed
Additional extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Reconstitute the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl by adding 1 cup very hot water and allowing to soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, using a paper towel, clean off any dirt from the mushrooms and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices.
(* Note: If using shitake mushrooms, remove the stems and discard before slicing—the stems are notoriously tough and really unusable.) Set aside.
With your hand, remove the porcini mushrooms from their soaking liquid and squeeze any excess liquid from the porcinis back into the soaking bowl. Place the squeezed porcinis on the cutting board and roughly chop into smaller pieces. Set aside. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine sieve, or coffee filter, and reserve for use.
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the olive oil and garlic. Cook the garlic briefly for 15 to 30 seconds, making sure the garlic does not burn. Quickly stir in the sliced fresh mushrooms and stir continuously until the mushrooms start to release their own liquid, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chopped porcini mushrooms and stir until well combined, cooking another 3 to 5 minutes, until the mushrooms natural liquid has almost evaporated.
Add the wine and cook until it has reduced by half. Stir in the reserved porcini soaking liquid, salt, and black pepper. Continue cooking an additional 5 to 7 minutes until the liquid has almost evaporated. You want the mushroom mixture to be loose, but not too wet or too dry. Remove from heat and set aside while you prepare the bread.
Heat a grill pan over medium-heat heat, and when hot, place the bread on it to toast. Toast both sides, turning to make sure both have nice dark brown grill marks. If you don’t have a grill pan, you may toast the bread in a 450-degree oven or in a toaster.
Remove the grilled bread to a platter and while hot, rub the cut end of the garlic clove over the top surface of each grilled slice. The heat of the bread will “melt” the garlic into the crunchy surface.
Top each slice with a large spoonful of the mushroom mixture, making sure to distribute evenly between all slices. Drizzle the slices with additional extra virgin olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 8 full slices or 16 ½-slices.