Posted by: Part-Time Audiophile | March 2, 2009

What to do with dried “gourmet” mushrooms

Porcini, chanterelle, maitake, shiitake, enoki, and about a gazillion others. You get ’em in little plastic bags. They’re cheap (at least as compared to fresh), they last forever … what’s not to like?

Well, I’m here to tell you. Dried mushrooms, regardless of their origin all share one thing — they suck.

Despite what you read on the package or find a book, you cannot reconstitute mushrooms successfully. Can’t be done. Sorry.

You can pop that whole bag into simmering pot of chicken or veal stock — and what you have at the end of the process is … mushroom flavored stock. The mushrooms themselves have all the texture and integrity of … crap. They blow.

Now, fresh mushrooms are heavenly. I LOVE chanterelles. However, who want’s to shell out $20-$30 / lb for mushrooms that won’t last a week in the fridge? Oops, something came up … and now my ‘shrooms rotted. Boo.

So, what to do with the dried guys? I have the answer! The blender. Reconstitute according to the packaging or your whimsy. Then, pulse the living daylights out of them. Immersion blender is good, food processor is better, Vita Mix, the uber-blender of Champions, is best. None of the above? Okay, there is a “hard-way”. The consistency you want is … well … French. Which is to say, unctuous without a hint of annoying structure or fiber. I’m talking beyond mush and fully into the cream-zone. LOL. Drain off the reconstituting liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Then, using a wooden spoon or spatula, push the supposedly now-mushy ‘shrooms through the bottom of the strainer. There is a special strainer for this, called a tamis, but good luck finding one. Luckily, yours will work just fine. Anyway, push. They won’t want to go. Keep pushing, gently scraping at the mushrooms till they start going through. Use another spoon to scrape the ‘shrooms off the bottom side of the strainer, and mix those scrapings into the broth you’ve already gotten through. Mmm, delicious.

Now, you have a “sauce” made of the stock you reconstituted your ‘shrooms in and the ‘shroom puree. Sweet! Add a pat of butter, and you have a sauce for steak or rib roast. Add some cream, and you have a much better sauce for your beef. Cook some shallots in some butter, add some brandy, cook off that brandy till the shallots are almost dry — then tip the pan into the open flame — BOOM — flambe baby! — smother, add your mushroom sauce and some cream, and boy-howdy is that a fine sauce for your beef. Ta freakin’ da.

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