Wednesday, June 07, 2006

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.


Blogger hellomelissa said...

yum! i LOOOVVEEE mushrooms. they served delicious ones at breakfast in england. and yes, we were all having that problem yesterday. frustrating! and it made the whole world wait for photos of my children on the last days of school.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Kalyn Denny said...

It sounds like a wonderful way to cook mushrooms. I love the idea of adding some thym, which I have in my garden. Yesterday I had trouble with Blogger too if it's any consolation.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds lovely ... and it was very nice of them to come and greet you.

Your mushroom recipe is gorgeous.

9:45 PM  
Blogger Corrie said...

how awesome that you had your reception at charlie trotter's! that sure beats typical blah american wedding food! wow!

the mushrooms sound simple and delicious! will try it out (sorry the photo didn't get published!)

11:10 AM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Susan

I have been to Chicago on several occasions and each time I'm there the name 'Charlie Trotter' comes up but I still haven't been to the restaurant. How cool though that you had your wedding reception there - isn't he well known for gourmet fusion food, or is that some other place?

The next time I plan on visiting Chicago I am going to have to ask you for restaurant suggestions!

1:04 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Melissa, Thise English breakfasts are so good! I love the idea of having something really substantial in the morning.

Hi Kalyn, So would something like this count for the Weekend Herb Blogging?

Hi Ivonne, The people at the restaurant treated us much better in person than they did on the phone when I was making the arrangements.

Hi Stelle (Jackie?) Yeah, it was the most perfect meal of my life.

Hi Lotus, Trotter's does a French Asian fusion. Let me know when you head to Chicago next, I'll set you up (more with the fab. street food and ethnic neighborhood stuff, though).

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlie Trotters. How elegant for a wedding!

8:34 PM  

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