Mushrooms, how I love them! Tender and tasty, it’s hard for me not to love a mushroom.
I fell for the funghi on a road trip with my Mom many years ago. We stopped at a country club, and split an appetizer of mushrooms in a red wine sauce for lunch. Phenomenal. The real revelation with that dish was the idea that a button mushroom can be every bit as lush and complex as any other variety, if treated well. This recipe does treat them well.
The trick with this book is to be aware that the translator/transcriber used modern weights and measures rather than the historical ones, which can lead to misperceptions of balance. Of course, like most recipes, measures are not given for each step, so it’s more directly about portion and proportion.
(please check http://www.medievalcookery.com/helewyse/Lost_in_Translation.html for more information, the author of the page as done some excellent work breaking down the specifics of this particular title)
This recipe, sops of field mushrooms, calls for cooking in a casserole or ceramic pot. I did manage to scare up a ceramic pot, and can attest that it cooked rather similarly to a cast iron dutch oven, but the flavor was perceptibly different when cooked in each. The tight lid is the trick, to hold in steam and re-baste the mushrooms.
The instructions call for soaking the mushrooms in order to clear them of sand. Most modern farm mushrooms do not have this issue, but soak them anyhow in order to give them the moisture boost which will help them create the wealth of sauce which is the hallmark of the dish.
An oddity is the guidance to grind a quarter of the mushrooms, and allow them to macerate with a very small amount of spinach tops. I handled this by making a spinach dish at the same time, and simply stole a little of the spinach.
Seasoning is light, but the book does suggest the flavor be “tangy” with spice and verjus.
Recipe: to prepare sops of field mushrooms.
- 48 ounces of mushrooms, set aside 12 ounces
- an ounce and a half of wilted or thawed spinach
- 1 oz olive oil
- 1-2 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp saffron
- 1 TBS minced herbs (I used garlic chives)
- 4 oz verjus
- Make sure mushrooms are clean, allow to soak and drain if needed.
- Slice any larger than a walnut.
- Mince, grind, or otherwise reduce the 12 ounce portion of mushrooms.
- Fold minced mushrooms with spinach, set in a small bowl with some water.
- Set the heat on medium, put the pot on the heat, and add the olive oil.
- Put the other 36 ounces of mushrooms in the cooking pot, put on the lid.
- Check the pot every 5 minutes, there will be a lot of steam and a lot of liquid developing in the pot.
- When the mushrooms are reduced to about half the size, fold in the minced mushroom-spinach blend, the spices, herbs, and half of the verjus.
- Fold the contents of the pot, put the lid back on.
- After another 5 or so minutes, taste and adjust seasonings, allow to simmer for another 5 minutes
- Double-check seasonings, and turn off the heat when you consider the balance correct.
- Slice some bread rather thin, and toast it in a dry pan.
- Lay the toasts on plates
- Put mushrooms with a good amount of broth on the toasts and serve
– Mushrooms are not universally loved
-spice balance can be slightly fiddly -requires a good pot
-calls for a small amount of spinach, requiring extra planning
+requires checking in somewhat regularly, but not constant attendance
+simple assembly +Easily made in advance
+Leftovers easily converted for future use; can be frozen as-is, can be sauteed down into another dish, added to soup,
folded into a meatloaf. Not a lot you can’t do with this one.
Preparation time: 5-15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 45 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 2-4