Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mushroom Gratinate

I have made mushroom crostini for people several times using different recipes.  However, a recipe from Lidia Bastianich gets the best reviews.  It is like the "King" or "Queen" of mushroom crostini recipes, with the title of "Gratinate." This title is especially appropriate because the cheese used in the "Gratinate" is Parmigiano Reggiano, the "king" of Italian cheeses.

The recipe calls for garlic, sage, thyme and flat leaf parsley to be added while you saute the mushrooms. This mixture of herbs contributes a lot of flavor that complements the mushrooms themselves.  You do not have to limit yourself to these herbs, you could experiment by adding some rosemary, to underscore the earthiness of the dish, or some cracked black peppercorns, to provide a little bite. 

This dish was the first course of the four course dinner served at the Guest Chef Night.  We used eight pounds of mushrooms to create this course and went through all of the mushrooms.  Guests who tasted it both at the test kitchen and the Guest Chef Night really liked these crostini.  The recipe set forth below is designed to serve about twelve people, depending upon the size of the crostini or bread that you use.

Adapted from Lidia's Italy
Serves 12

Ingredients (for the mushrooms):
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2½ pounds mushroom, cleaned, sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
4 leaves fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated

Ingredients (for the base and gratin):
12 slices hearty wheat bread, lightly toasted
3 tablespoons soft butter
¼ cup Italian parsley, freshly chopped
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Heat the olive oil in the skillet over medium heat and saute the garlic, stirring, until the garlic just begins to color but well before it begins to brown. Add the butter and, when it melts, toss in the mushrooms, sprinkle on the thyme, sage, and salt.  Cook the mushrooms and other ingredients, stirring now and then, until the water evaporates and the mushrooms start to caramelize. Remove from the heat, then stir in the grated cheese.

3.  Lay the bread slices in one layer in the baking pan to cover the bottom completely. Spread the soft butter all over the bread and spoon the mushrooms evenly on top, pressing them down into the bread. Sprinkle the parsley on and top with grated cheese.

4.  Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese has browned and the edges of the bread are crisp. Let rest a few minutes, before serving.


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