Somewhere in the early 1960s, this dish of sautéed mushrooms made it’s way into our Holiday menu. I remember watching my Aunt Mary, in her Bronx kitchen, stirring a huge frypan of this weird looking vegetable and wondering if I would like it. It was Christmas Day, and we already had too much food. Why add something new…….and this of all things?! It was a hit, and now this became a staple for most of our Holiday meals, and even Sunday dinners. It certainly was a welcomed addition to our oftentimes overcooked Sunday roasts (sorry, mom). I was always happy to smell this cooking on the stove.
As a young bride, this was an easy way to impress my guests. At the time (1970s), this was a rather sophisticated side dish for the average American cook, and really made your meal look elegant. The only mushrooms available then were white mushrooms, but now I love mixing it up with shitake, baby bell, oyster, portobello, etc. There are so many types to choose from today.
This dish is still making it to our family table most holiday dinners. We haven’t replaced it with anything fancier. It’s funny how we cling to foods that remind us of us the past. We can’t let go. Something as simple as sautéd mushrooms can remind us of the wonderful holidays past, as we cling to the memories of those who are not with us now. Food can be magical.
RECIPE: 4 to 6 servings
2 to 2 1/2 pounds assorted mushrooms, cleaned and roughly sliced.
1 small onion, finely chopped OR 4 large shallots, finely chopped ( I prefer the shallots now)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 TBSP butter
3 TBSP olive oil
The juice of one large lemon
1/2 cup dry vermouth
1 cup chopped, fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste
1. Melt the butter in the olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or large skillet As soon as butter is melted, add the garlic and shallots, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not brown the garlic.
2. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes, stirring to coat the mushrooms. Cover and cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Peek often and give a stir. They should be cooking down and releasing their juices.
3. Once they seem tender, add the lemon juice and parsley. Stir well and cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Add the dry vermouth, salt and pepper to taste, if necessary. Let the vermouth evaporate for a few minutes, stirring.
5. Ready to serve.
**NOTE: Cooking time is very dependent on the type of mushrooms you use. Some types take longer, and others turn to mush rather quickly. So you really need to keep an eye on the whole process, especially the first time you make this. It’s also wonderful to have various tastes and textures by mixing the types of mushrooms you use. Some will be softer than others, and this adds a depth to the flavor of the whole dish.