Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Pair mushrooms with meat, pasta or potatoes

Rhonda Wilson sautes her mushrooms for serving over beef and venison (she hunts, too). You can also create a simple pasta dish by sauteing the mushrooms in olive oil with garlic. Toss with pasta and add chopped parsley and grated Parmesan.

Here's another dish from Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini (Morrow; $60). If you don't have oyster mushrooms, substitute other exotic varieties or ordinary white mushrooms.

Before using oyster mushrooms, wipe off any straw or other growing compound. Trim away and discard any tough stems.

Creamy Oyster Mushroom and Potato Gratin

2 pounds medium-small yellow-fleshed potatoes (about 10)

1 pound medium or large oyster mushrooms

11/2 tablespoons butter

2 medium shallots, chopped

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1 cup vegetable or mushroom broth

2/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel potatoes, and if they are wider than 2 inches, cut in half lengthwise. Then cut into thin slices. Place sliced potatoes into 21/2 to 3-quart baking dish that will hold all ingredients. Brush and trim mushrooms. Cut into large bite-size pieces.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. When foaming, add shallots and stir a minute or two to soften slightly. Raise heat and add mushrooms and salt. Toss until mushrooms release their juices and soften a little - just a few minutes. Spoon mushrooms into dish with potatoes.

Add broth, cream, nutmeg and pepper to skillet and bring to boil. Pour three-fourths of this liquid over mushrooms and potatoes, then toss until they absorb some liquid. Cover tightly with foil and set in upper third of oven.

Bake until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes. Uncover and pour over remaining liquid. Bake until golden and slightly crisp, 20 to 30 minutes, basting occasionally with cooking liquid. Makes 6 servings.

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