Saturday, February 19, 2005

Pairings: Earthy Flavors on the Plate as Well as in the Bottle

The New York Times > Dining & Wine > Pairings: Earthy Flavors on the Plate as Well as in the Bottle

Now that the movie Sideways has raised the profile of Pinot Noir, it's time to consider mushrooms to go with it...

Of course, we encourage you to shop Earthy Delights for fine wild as well as cultivated mushrooms

Full excerpt from the New York Times in case the link disappears:
February 16, 2005

Earthy Flavors on the Plate as Well as in the Bottle

No wine suggests mushrooms like a well-made, complex pinot noir. When the grape isn't strutting too much ripe fruit, its persistent, spicy earthiness is almost mysterious. Like mushrooms.

So mushrooms it will be with the pinot noir. Sautéed, they could be tossed with pasta or risotto, smother chicken breasts, be scattered on a salad or star in a soy-darkened stir-fry. Or with a wine like the elegant Au Bon Climat from California or Mills Reef from New Zealand, from the start of the meal the mushrooms might show all their intensity blended into a terrine as a first course.

Though the terrine can be made with just shiitake or even cremini mushrooms, it has more flavor with an assortment of cultivated ones including shiitake, cremini and oyster, and even some wild ones like chanterelles, hedgehogs, porcini or morels.

Some intense dried mushrooms like black trumpets or even morels will add complexity. The assembly is mostly machine work: chopping and puréeing, with some sautéeing in a big skillet, best nonstick.

The seasonings are simple: shallots, garlic, parsley and a generous turn of the pepper mill. A bit of smoky bacon also speaks the language of some of the wines. Toasted ground walnuts play up the tannic component of the terrine and its accompanying wine.

An extra terrine pan can be set on top of the finished loaf as it cools in its pan, to firm up the texture. Weight the empty pan with a few cans of tuna or jars of jam. After an hour the terrine can be chilled alone in its pan. It will keep for a couple of days. Let it lose some of its chill after it is unmolded by turning it onto a serving dish for an hour.

Alongside slabs of the terrine offer slices of toasted brioche or even walnut bread and a tangy condiment like English pickled walnuts or French sour cherries.

The main course choices are many, especially meats or birds that have been grilled, roasted or richly braised. No more mushrooms are needed: the terrine primes the palate with woodsy flavors that enhance the wine and linger through dinner.

Mushroom Terrine

Time: 2 hours, plus cooling

1/2 ounce dried black trumpet or tree ear mushrooms
12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 pound other assorted mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for pan
3 ounces smoked bacon, diced
3/4 cup minced shallots
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and ground
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs
1/4 cup brandy.

1. Place dried mushrooms in a bowl to soak with 1 cup hot water. Put half the shiitakes with the pound of assorted mushrooms in a food processor; pulse to chop fine. Oil a terrine that holds 4 to 5 cups. Line with wax paper or parchment with enough overhang to cover top. Oil paper.

2. Heat bacon and half the oil in a skillet. When bacon starts to soften, add shallots and garlic. Sauté until soft. Add processed mushrooms, and sauté over medium heat until cooked through. Put contents of skillet in blender with walnuts, 3 tablespoons parsley and cream. Drain the soaked mushrooms well, and add. Purée. Season with salt and generously with pepper. Add eggs and brandy, and process to mix. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a kettle of water to a boil.

4. Add remaining oil to skillet. Add remaining shiitakes, and sauté until tender. Mix with remaining parsley. Fold into puréed mushrooms.

5. Spoon into terrine; cover with paper. Put in a larger baking dish, and add hot water halfway up sides of terrine. Bake 1 hour. Put terrine on a rack; nest empty terrine on top, and weight with cans or jars. Cool 1 hour. Remove weights; refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Unmold, peel off paper.

Yield: 8 servings.


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