Charlie Trotter's Roasted Mushrooms
A little over 3 years ago, we had our wedding reception dinner at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago and the experience was a thing to remember! In fact a number of guests actually took photos (sadly, not digital) of all the courses so we have the whole meal documented. The chef (not Charlie) came out to greet us at the end of the meal and offered us some free cookbooks, Charlie Trotter’s biography, a copy of the evening’s menu and a European Hotel/Restaurant Guide since he knew we were moving immediately to Italy. One of my cousins got a chef’s touque and my dad, a CT baseball hat. We took a tour of the bustling kitchen One thing that struck me about the incomparable food at Trotter’s was the persnicketyness of everything. Anal retention and perfectionism seem to rule in that place which does make for some fabulous cuisine but I’ll bet working in the back is tough! Of the 2 cookbooks, “Charlie Trotter’s Seafood” and the more accessible, “Charlie Trotter Cooks at Home” (He does?! Hmmm…I don’t buy it.) I have made precious few recipes. A typical seafood recipe in the fancier book calls for things like preserved turmeric, verjus, poached quail eggs or tatsoi. Even the homey book is pretty complicated with 2-3 mini recipes required to make each dish (not much of a problem for me) but the ingredients are, I dunno. Elite? Not run-of-the-mill? The poultry section has more duck breast recipes than chicken. So I don’t use these books much. However, in the homey book there’s a basic recipe (meant to go into a more complicated final dish) for roasted mushrooms that is very easy, yet like anything Charlie, DIVINE.
Here’s what I did with it:
1 lb cleaned, stemmed mushrooms (Charlie specifies button, cremini, shitake or portabello, I used oyster)
1 medium yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 sprigs thyme
½ cup water
salt and pepper
Now Charlie suggests to toss all the ingredients in a roasting pan and roast in the oven at 325F for 30-40 minutes until mushrooms are tender. I, however, heated the oil in my largest frying pan over medium heat, added the onion, fried it until light golden, added the garlic, fried for a few seconds, then added everything else and sauteed until the mushrooms were tender. Music to sautee mushrooms by: Chicago musical greats (with an edible name) Smashing Pumpkins "Snail" from the ambum Gish. Look at the photo and tell me these mushrooms don't look like snails! This makes a delicious bruschetta topping (see photo IF I CAN GET IT PUBLISHED! ANYBODY ELSE HAVING THIS PROBLEM?) but also a wonderful accompaniment to polenta or mashed potatoes.