Marinating Chanterelles

Italian Marinated Mushrooms

By Hank Shaw on March 17, 2012 |from/via: http://www.cookingwithrosetta.com/cookbook.html

{{Rosetta’s new site is:  http://cookingwithrosetta.com/?p=4550  }}

Here’s something I’m going to try with 5 lbs of wild chanterelles.

mushrooms-69076_640-chanterelles

how to preserve porcini Funghi sott’olio. So much more than just an Italian version of pickled mushrooms. I’ve eaten these as part of an antipasti plate since I was a kid. Standard pickled mushrooms, let’s face it, can be slippery and even rubbery. Not a great texture. But these are meaty, chewy and just a shade funky — mushroomy in all the best ways.

I never really knew just how the Italians did it until I read Rosetta Costantino’s My Calabria. In it, Costantino reveals her family’s method for preserving mushrooms in oil, and when I read her recipe, I was immediately struck by how similar it is to a Sicilian technique I use every year when I have too much zucchini. Makes sense, as Calabria is only a few miles from Sicily.

mushrooms preserved in oil recipe
Basically you need to remove water from the mushrooms, then boil them in vinegar, then dry them out a bit before submerging in oil. It is a method I’ve seen done with a lot of foods, even meat on occasion. What this particular do-si-do of preservation does is first use salt to pull the existing water from the food. Once the food is reasonably dry, acidify it with vinegar — bad bugs find it tough to survive in low Ph environments. Finally, keep air (and molds) off the food by submerging it in olive oil.

You should know there is no official USDA protocol for this method of preservation. Costantino tried to get the government to give its vaguely papal gesture for her recipe, but they declined. Suffice to say it works: The Italians have been doing it for centuries, if not millennia.

I tested this method with four kinds of mushrooms: button mushrooms, hedgehog mushrooms, chanterelles and porcini. You need a meaty mushroom to begin with or this method will not work. Other mushrooms I might try preserving sott’olio would be blewits, pig’s ears (Gomphus clavatus), shiitake, matsutake, king trumpet mushrooms, and maybe chicken of the woods. Bottom line: The ‘shroom’s gotta have heft.

That’s why porcini and their boletus cousins are the ideal. Try this with a leccinum or a birch bolete and you’ll transform a mediocre mushroom into something special.

spring porcini
A few pointers to start:
•Wash your mushrooms and trim any bad spots. Be sure the mushrooms are not wormy.
•Use high quality ingredients: Good olive oil, sea salt, quality vinegar, good lemons. You can definitely taste the difference.
•Store your mushrooms in glass containers, in the fridge. It is entirely possible that they are shelf stable, but I am not a fan of botulism, so I keep mine in the refrigerator.

The recipe that follows is approximate. You may need more or less of the ingredients to fit your containers. One tip: Start with more mushrooms than you think you need. They shrink a lot in this process, and are so good you will run out long before you’re tired of eating them.

chanterelles preserved in oil
Italian marinated mushrooms

These may just be the best marinated mushrooms you will ever eat. This method of preserving them highlights how meaty certain mushrooms can be, and the marinade is a perfect blend of Italian flavors: lemon, chile, olive oil, oregano. I have found that boletes are the best for this: porcini, birch boletes, leccinum species and the like. But as you can see from the picture above, chanterelles work well, as does any other meaty mushroom. For store-bought shrooms, use crimini, shiitake or king trumpets.

You don’t need any special equipment to make these mushrooms, but you need time. It takes a day to make them. But it is more than worth it. First of all, they will keep in the fridge for 6 months — if you can keep yourself from eating them all. I guarantee that if you set a bowl of these out on an appetizer tray, they will be gone in minutes.

1 pint.

Prep Time: 24 hours, most of it passive

Cook Time: 5 minutes
•3-4 pounds small, meaty mushrooms
•2 pints white vinegar or cider vinegar
•Kosher salt or pure sea salt
•Zest of a lemon, sliced into wide strips
•4 dried hot chiles, split lengthwise
•1 tablespoon dried oregano
•1 cup extra virgin olive oil

__________

Cut the mushrooms into reasonable pieces. With small mushrooms, like a button mushroom, you need only cut them in half, and you can leave the smaller ones whole. With large chanterelles and porcini, cut them into 1/2 inch thick slices. They will shrink a lot in this process, and they will be pliable, so they can be a little larger than you’d think they ought to be.

Photo by Hank Shaw

Salt them well. Lay down a layer of salt on a sheet tray and place the mushrooms on it. If the mushroom has a flat side, i.e., a button mushroom sliced in half, lay the flat side down against the salt. Sprinkle a heavy layer of salt over the tops of all the mushrooms. Let this stand at room temperature for 1-2 hours. You will notice a lot of water coming out of the mushrooms. This is good.

Put the mushrooms between paper towels and gently squeeze them a bit to remove a little more water.

Hank Shaw

Hank Shaw

Boil them in the vinegar for five minutes. The mushrooms will want to float. Use tongs or something to submerge them as much as you can. Fish out the mushrooms and put them between paper towels again and gently squeeze them to remove some of the vinegar.

Lay the mushrooms on a clean cloth to dry. Let them air dry until they are no longer damp, but still pliable. Don’t let them dry out into leather. Turn the mushrooms once or twice during this time. This will take between 12-24 hours, depending on how dry it is in your house and how much air circulation you have going.

Put the oil, lemon zest, oregano and chile in a bowl and toss the mushrooms in them. Pack this into glass jars. Use a chopstick or some other kind of clean stick to poke around the jar — you want to find and remove as many air bubbles as possible. Make sure the mushrooms are submerged in the oil.

porcini preserved in oil
Photo by Hank Shaw

Refrigerate and wait at least a week before eating. These mushrooms will keep in the fridge for 6 months.

FROM ROSETTA:

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Funghi ripieni con ricotta (Wild mushrooms stuffed with ricotta)

One dozen mushroom caps,  more if small

1 cup well-drained ricotta

¼ cup dried breadcrumbs

¼ cup grated pecorino cheese

2 teaspoons fresh mint leaves, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves, chopped

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven at 400F.

Remove stems from mushrooms and quickly rinse under water.   Drain well.  Set aside.

Mix the remaining ingredients until all blended.

Coat a baking dish with some olive oil.  Sprinkle the mushroom caps  with salt. Stuff each cap with one to two tablespoons of ricotta  filling, depending on size.

Place the stuffed mushroom caps inside the baking dish right next to each other.

Drizzle with olive oil.   Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes for large caps, 15 minutes for small caps.

AND THIS:

Give it a try and enjoy it as an appetizer or as a light vegetarian meal! Crostone con i Funghi Grilled Bread with Sautéed Wild Mushrooms and Taleggio Cheese Four 3/4-inch-thick slices crusty Italian bread 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 4 cloves garlic: 1 cut in half, 3 grated on Microplane or finely minced 4 ounces Taleggio, cut into four 1/8-inch-thick slices 1 pound assorted fresh wild mushrooms (chanterelles, porcini, shiitake, oyster) cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch slices 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley Preheat a charcoal, gas, or stovetop grill to high heat or preheat broiler with an oven rack positioned about 6 inches below the heat source. Generously brush both sides of bread with about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Grill until toasted with a little color on both sides. Transfer to a baking sheet and rub both sides of toast with the cut garlic. Discard garlic. Top each toast with Taleggio and set aside. Heat the remaining olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat. When oil is hot enough to sizzle a mushroom, add mushrooms and salt. Don’t stir until steam starts rising from sides of pan. Sprinkle with grated/minced garlic and sauté quickly, stirring frequently, just until mushrooms soften, about 3 minutes. Add parsley, stir, and taste for seasoning–add more salt, if necessary. Set aside. (Recipe can be made ahead up to this point.) Just before serving, place toast under broiler just until cheese melts. Transfer to individual dinner plates, top with mushrooms, and serve immediately with a knife and fork. Serves 4 Copyright 2006, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved. – See more at: http://cookingwithrosetta.com/?p=2208#sthash.xkh7YtwK.dpuf

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