You know it is going to be tasty when you are paying by the ounce!
I visited my mushroom friend Carl at the farmers market the other day. He only has shitake mushrooms this time of year but he did have something new this time. He had Oregon truffles. Assuming that you get what you pay for when I saw the $15/ounce price I said “are they really any good?” The Italian truffles can be over $200/ounce. After buying them and cooking with them his answer was spot on. He said they are 20x cheaper but not nearly that much less flavorful. True to truffle form they filled my entire refrigerator with their musty, woodsy, deep earthy smell. I think this is their way of demanding that you use them and not forget about them.
I sautéed the baby shitake mushrooms in olive oil. The key to cooking mushrooms is to think of them as meat. You want to use high heat and get the oil hot. Mushrooms can take a lot of heat. Once they get a nice roasted golden brown color there is a barrier between the mushroom and the sauce which preserves their texture. Now you can do almost anything to them. You can add wine and/or meat stock and reduce for a great sauce. You can add a touch of cream and toss with pasta. As long as you get the outside of the mushrooms golden brown their texture will be nice; slightly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. If you use low heat and don’t get them brown before adding liquid their texture will be spongy as they just soak up the liquid you add. In this case I did not add any liquid. I wanted to taste the full flavor of the mushrooms and the truffles via a bruschetta. Once golden I added a touch of chopped garlic and then shaved the truffle into the pan and turned off the heat. I always add garlic at the end so that it gives off its fresh perfume without getting toasted. The residual heat of the pan immediately infused the truffle flavor throughout. I added a handful of arugula and tossed again just to wilt the greens.
My daughter grilled the sliced baguette and laid them out on the platter. We topped the bread with the mushroom/truffle mixture and then dropped cubes of fresh mozzarella on top. A small drizzle of olive oil and there you have it. Before I got the first bite to my mouth I could “taste” the truffle via the smell. The strong woodsy, musty smell that you get when they are cold becomes a softer, richer mushroom flavor when heated. The truffle added an incredible depth to the mushrooms. The arugula added its peppery note as well as a balance to the richness. The cubes of fresh mozzarella melted half way from the heat of the mushrooms and then melted the rest of the way in my mouth. The fresh mozzarella tasted like a sip of pure, fresh, concentrated milk. My son was hesitant but when he saw the joy on the rest of our faces he gave it a try. He liked it too. A sip of yeasty, dry champagne is the perfect match. Killer appetizer or great lunch.
Eat well, Enjoy life, Be happy