Sure, there are some poisonous mushrooms out there. But most of them are perfectly safe (please, however, consult an expert before picking and eating anything not found in a grocery store or farm market). My dad would have you believe differently.
Dad hates mushrooms and has made it a lifetime commitment to keep them off the table. Fortunately, I have my mom, sister, brother and husband to back me up on this one. Plus, much to his chagrin, dad secretly loves the flavor of Porcinis.
Last weekend I came home with a bagful of beautiful Oyster mushrooms, Shitakes and Hen-of-the-Woods. Their scent was rich and meaty, earthy and begging for butter and herbs. I thought of them chopped fine, softened and browned and a tapenade came to mind. No mushrooms, but salt, vinegar and layer-upon-layer of flavor.
Capers were obvious (thanks Jim!). The anchovy paste less so. BTW if the mention of anchovy paste got your cursor speeding across the screen to close this window as fast as possible, STOP! You won’t taste it at all. At least not that you recognize. It will smell super-fishy when you first add it, but that goes away and just adds a little je ne sais quoi to the recipe, otherwise known as the flavor umami. I double-dog-dare you.
We first put this on toasted baguette. I also happened to be roasting a chicken with potatoes, and we spooned the mushrooms over both. Lots of them.
Wild Mushroom Tapenade
- 4 tbs butter
- 2 lg shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp anchovy paste*
- 4 cups chopped wild mushrooms**
- 2 tbs olive oil – the good stuff!
- 2 tbs capers, rinsed and minced
- 1 tbs chopped oregano (thyme and rosemary work well too)
- 1 tbs chopped parsley
- Melt 2 tbs butter in a large sauté pan over med-low heat. A big pan is important so that the mushrooms are not crowded later. Add shallot and cook until softened, about 5 min.
- Add garlic and anchovy paste and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
- Raise heat to medium, add 2 tbs butter, melt, and add mushrooms.
- Cook mushrooms until softened and golden, about 8-10 minutes. When you first add them, watch for burning. They will immediately suck up all the butter. Then they will release their own liquid. As that liquid evaporates the flavors will concentrate and deepen.
- Add capers, oregano and parsley, stir through and cook until fragrant. 1 minute.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper and possibly a squeeze of lemon juice.