Monday, February 9, 2009

At Market...Oyster Mushrooms

I have never, ever seen mushrooms at our farmers market. And when I finally did on Sunday, I just about kissed the bewildered farmer who I'm sure was surprised to see such an elated girl at his stand. His table was loaded with both frilly, off white oyster mushrooms, and large, earth-hued shiitake ones. I took a brown paper sack filled with $10 worth of oysters (which wasn't all that much really...they are kind of a delicacy), and hurried home to show off my find.

Oyster mushrooms are slightly anise scented, velvety on the top side and lined with soft gills underneath. They are frequently used in stir-fries and their tender flesh assumes the flavor of whatever is cooked alongside. Tonight I sauted them with shallots and garlic in a cream and wine reduction sauce, that was both rich in flavor and silky in texture. Spooned over fresh egg pasta and finished with some Piave cheese (a mild Parmesan), a glass of wine and a green salad was all we needed to complete the meal. If you cannot find oyster mushrooms at your farmers market, you can use brown button or shiitake mushrooms from the super market.

Pasta with Oyster Mushroom Sauce

12 oz. fresh egg linguine or fettucchine (make your own or buy some from your favorite Italian or gourmet market)
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 C sliced oyster mushrooms (discard woody stems or save to make broth)
1 C mushroom or chicken stock (use Better than Bouillon mushroom base if you can find it)
1/2 C half and half or heavy cream
1/4 C dry white wine
freshly grated Piave cheese

Heat butter and oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute shallot, garlic and mushrooms and saute until onions are translucent and mushrooms have given off their moisture and it has been evaporated. Add mushroom or chicken stock and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until reduced by half. Add cream and white wine and simmer 5 minutes more. Meanwhile cook pasta for about 3 minutes (or according to package directions) until al dente. Toss with sauce in the skillet. If pasta seems too dry, add a ladle-full of the pasta cooking water to loosen up a bit. Top with freshly grated Piave cheese (or the Parmesan style cheese of your choice).

1 comment:

Eli said...

The Santa Barbara farmers' market is wasted on me, a non-mushroom-lover, because there are regularly mushrooms to be found. This weekend there were oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and wild chanterelles.