I never gave mushrooms much of a chance until I became a vegetarian in my late teens. The strange, squidgy texture and the fact that my sister loved them, was more than enough reason to reject them outright. But then one evening, during my decade long stint as a vegetarian, my mother served a mushroom barley risotto that revealed to me the sublime, natural umami taste of edible fungus.
This mushroom recipe is inspired by a vegan friend's mushroom cooking method. The first time I saw her leaving the mushrooms to cook in mounds of garlic, for over 15 minutes, I thought for sure they would be burnt, dry and chewy. Vegan leather anyone!? But boy, was I wrong! The abundant quantity of garlic mixes with the mushroom juices to create a sticky caramel coating that perfectly enhances the natural meaty, umami of the mushrooms. This dish can easily make a meal served on some sort of mashed root vegetable, these kale mashed potatoes, or polenta. It would also work as a decadent side dish for any type of meat, particularly steak. Or it could be served as an appetizer with some toothpicks. I ate it for lunch with a salad and a slice of focaccia and couldn't stop eating it. I had intended to save some to eat with eggs at breakfast, but that didn't happen!
CARAMELIZED GARLIC MUSHROOMS
8 oz whole cremini or other mix of mushrooms
1/2 head or 2 tbsp. minced garlic (I used 1 oz)
1/4 cup white wine or broth
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 -3 sprigs of thyme
3 tbsp olive oil plus more for drizzling
1-2 tbsp nutritional yeast or parmesan
1. Pull the stems off of the mushroom caps and discard or save to make vegetable broth.
2. Heat the olive oil in medium skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat, and add the garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, for around 1 minute, just until starting to turn golden.
3. Add the mushroom caps, thyme and salt to the pan and coat with the garlic. Cook for 2 minutes more and then add the white wine to deglaze and coat mushrooms. If the garlic starts to burn, turn down your heat and/ or add the wine.
4. Once the wine has mostly evaporated, turn down the heat to low and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping the mushrooms occasionally and watching to be sure the garlic doesn't burn.
5. Once the mushrooms are golden brown and coated in a sticky, garlic coating, sprinkle with nutritional yeast or cheese and let cook for 2 minutes longer.
Enjoy in any or all of the above mentioned ways!
Serves 1 to 2