Mushrooms are most adaptable. Use them as a main course, as seasoning, as vegetables, in salads, or as an hors d’oeuvre, or to add distinction to many dishes. Sauteed caps, sliced or whole, combine well with vegetables and add much to steak or roast beef. Raw mushroom slices enhance many salads. A few sliced or whole mushrooms with other ingredients in chicken or meat pie, stews, and other mixed casserole dishes are excellent.
Mushrooms lose flavor if peeled. But old and tough skins must be scraped off. Peeled stems will flavor many dishes and may be put in the kettle when making broth. For mushroom stock for use in sauces or soups, add peelings and stems to 2 cups water and simmer 20 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and parsley.
- 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter for sauce plus one more Tbs. for mushrooms
- 1.5 pound mixed fresh mushrooms (shitake, porcini, oyster)
- 1/2 cup Madeira wine
- 1 cup light vegetable broth (or liquid from reconstituted dried mushrooms or mixture of both)
- 1 cup milk
- 3 Tbs. flour
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Butter a casserole dish.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Set aside, covered to keep it warm.
Prepare a Madeira-flavored sauce:
Melt the butter in a pan; when melted, add flour. Blend well over a slow fire and then add slowly – constantly stirring – broth and milk which have been mixed and heated. Keep beating the sauce with a spoon to make it light. Then add the juice from the pan in with the mushrooms have been cooked and Madeira wine – heated, but not boiled. (Sherry may be used, but the flavor of Madeira is finer with mushrooms.)
Season the sauce with salt, ground nutmeg, and touch of cayenne.
Note: Mushrooms vary in size. If you have too many for the baking dish and if there is sauce left over, heat the mushrooms in the sauce and serve separately over boiled potatoes.