"Americans used to say where there's a will, there's a way. Nowadays, it's where there's a pill, there's a way out." - - Burnt Toast

Shroomin'. . .

Mention mushrooms to a lot of people and watch them scurry for the shadows, adults and children alike.  And with all honesty, I was never a fan of mushrooms as a child and I had to "get all growed up" before I realized how wonderful these delightful little morsels of fungi truly are.

The diversity of mushrooms is as infinite as the mind's eye, but most of us are familiar with the common "button" mushroom or white mushroom as it is also known.  Other common varieties include wood ear, shiitake, enokitake, cloud, morel, chanterelle, cep and boletus.  Less common varieties and some that are most prized by crazy, dope-smoking, hippe mushroom hunters are ox tongue, Ceaser's mushroom, Giant Puffball, Dryad's Saddle and Sulfur Shelf.

Today we focus on the simple, but tasty and mildly delicate white mushroom.  We are going to pair this with spinach, a little cream, basil pesto and tomato straight from the garden out back.  This preparation is useful in that it can be used as a delicious side preparation and also as a sauce for a nice piece of sauteed fish or medium rare beef or even chicken or pork.  You can even slather it on your cat and watch the dog go berserk trying to lick it off.

Let's begin shall we, as we bastardize a French word in the process.

Ragoût of White Mushrooms and Baby Spinach in Basil Pesto Cream

1 pint of white mushrooms, sliced
1-6 oz pkg. baby spinach
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ripe tomato, large dice, or halved cherry tomatoes as a subsitute
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chicken stock or water
1/2 Tbsp. basil pesto
1 Tbsp. butter
salt and pepper, to taste

Begin by sauteing the onion in butter over medium heat for five to eight minutes, stirring often.

In the meantime, slice the mushrooms thinly or not so thinly depending on the texture that you prefer and see if you can slice a pint of mushrooms in the amount of time it takes the onion to cook.  I like a challenge, don't you?

Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook over medium to medium high heat until the mushrooms give off their waters and this cooks away.  You should begin to hear a nice sizzle, which is what you want because we are going to caramelize the mixture to a nice golden point as shown below.  This should take about ten minutes.  Add the garlic and cook two minutes more, then add the juice of half a lemon to deglaze the pan.

At this point, add the spinach and saute to wilt the leaves.  Cook for two or three minutes and add the basil pesto, cream, chicken stock and salt and pepper.

Simmer this until the cream reduces slightly and thickens.  Add the tomato last and continue to simmer for not more than two minutes to heat through the tomato.  Ultimately, you want the tomato intact and bursting with it's natural juice to cut all of that beautiful dairy fat on the palate.  Cooking it to death will do you no good at all.  You'll end up with a mouthful of mushy, unidentifiable junk and who wants that?  Adjust your seasonings and apply to your mouth for an enjoyable and flavorful diversion from the norm.  This is a Beatrice favorite and mine too.  Enjoy!  And if you want to make it even more sublime, add a handful of grated aged pecorino at the end.

Rick Shaw  – (Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:55:00 PM CST)  

Glad to see you blogging again and thanks for another good recipe!


Burnt Toast  – (Friday, July 2, 2010 at 1:28:00 PM CST)  

Thanks for stopping by Rick, I really appreciate it!

Stay tuned for more recipes. I've got a couple of special ones coming up. And again, thanks for being a fan!

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