Sunday, December 30, 2018

Tidewater Mushrooms

These are not the prettiest things to ever grace a plate.  My guess is that the cooks at Mount Vernon were not interested in the appearance when they made Tidewater Mushrooms. Medium sized mushroom caps, topped with an overflowing oyster, and drizzled with a combination of white wine and butter before being placed in a fire. With the edges of the oysters curled and the meat slightly firmed, the mushrooms would be removed and put on a plate for service.  

Nothing more.  Not even a sprinkle of chopped parsley or chives.

If there was ever a challenge to my general (lack of) ability to photograph food, there is this recipe.  However, the look belies the flavor of these little bites. At first, I did not think that oysters and mushrooms would be a good flavor combination (except when they are oyster mushrooms), even with butter and wine tying the two ingredients together. I checked my Flavor Bible, and, to be sure, for every category of mushroom, there was no mention of oysters.  Then, I checked oysters, and, interestingly enough, there was a reference to oysters.  That got me to thinking a little more.

Mushrooms are perhaps the quintessential ingredient for earthy tones; and, oysters have a briny characteristic that could work well with mushrooms.  To be sure, there are briny oysters that can be found along the Chesapeake Bay.  Fishermen would have brought those oysters to shore and to market, and, they would have made their way to kitchens along the the Bay. The best oysters would be small to medium-sized, briny bivalves.  

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon your view), the only oysters I had were "smalls" that, in reality, were "larges."  (Someone may have had an off day at the packing facility.)  That was a problem when it came to perching the oysters on their mushrooms  I was able to overcome that by using a muffin tray, placing one mushroom in each cup and plopping an over-sized oyster on top. 

Recipe from Mount Vernon
Serves 4

1 pound of medium large fresh mushrooms
Salt , to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pint oysters (medium size)
White wine or sherry

Remove stems from mushrooms, wipe clean.  Drain oysters and pet dry with toweling.  Dip mushrooms in melted butter and place cup side up on a well greased shallow pan.  Put an oyster in each cup, sprinkle with salt and pepper, dot with butter and 1/2 teaspoon white wine or sherry.  Broil under moderate heat until edges of oysters curl. Serve round a dish of cocktail sauce and horseradish for those who wish it.


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