Author Notes: This recipe is based on one I found quite by accident in the Google Books database. Say what you want about Google, but I for one am immeasurably thankful to the visionaries at that company who invested in scanning millions of long out-of-print books in the British Library, the Library of Congress and numerous universities. Those works are available to all of us, at no charge, almost instantaneously. The gem of a cookbook I unearthed is by a nineteenth century French baron, Léon Brisse, who compiled about 1400 recipes from his own kitchen, which were later translated by Edith Matthew Clark and published in London in 1892. I’ve included the entire original recipe in the notes below. That recipe does not call for the addition of any spice, other than salt and pepper. After reading last year however, in Russ Parson’s “How to Pick a Peach,” about how the French chef Michel Richard seasons mushrooms with a tiny pinch of curry powder, I’ve been experimenting by doing the same, with virtually every dish in which I use mushrooms. A tiny pinch provides a subtle complexity in the background; one should not discern the spice mixture itself. I don’t care much for the bright yellow hue of turmeric which one finds in conventional curry blends, so I make my own, without it. I’ve posted quite a few recipes over the past six months which include this “white curry” blend. When I found the Brisse recipes, I was fascinated to see that his recipe for duxelles calls for “mixed spice.” I did a bit of research, starting with Auguste Escoffier’s compendium of French classics, “The Escoffier Cook Book.” Although it was published some 15 years after the first Brisse compilation, I have no reason to believe that the Escoffier “Spices” recipe is not, at the very least, quite close to what Brisse’s cooks used. I’ve posted an adapted recipe of the Escoffier “Spices” formula elsewhere on food52, but for your convenience I’ve included it below, as well. If you haven’t the time or inclination to grind for yourself Escoffier’s blend, the “white curry” that I’ve been using is a fine substitute. (See Step 8.) The lightest possible touch of a traditional quatre-épices would also work. Serve these with grilled meats or fish, or with toothpicks as hors d’oeuvres (using smaller button mushrooms), or quarter and toss with a whole grain or pasta salad. They’re also perfect in omelettes. Enjoy!! ;o) - AntoniaJames
Serves 4 - 8
- 3/4 pound whole white or brown mushrooms
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 2 thyme branches
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
- ¼ teaspoon Escoffier’s “Spices” (recipe below)(Also, see note at Step 8.)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- Snipped chives, to taste (optional)
- Red wine vinegar, or lemon juice, to taste
- Using a damp tea towel, gently wipe the mushrooms clean and cut off the stems, to make them flush with the tops. Slit the mushrooms on top in 3 or 4 places, depending on the size of the mushroom.
- Warm the olive oil with the thyme, garlic, a pinch of salt and the spices (recipe below) or “white curry” spice (described in Step 8).
- Marinate the mushrooms in the warmed oil mixture (in the same saucepan, if possible) for one and a half hours. The mushrooms will immediately soak up the oil, but then will release their own liquid, so stir them several times while they marinate.
- Preheat broiler. Remove the mushrooms from the marinade, which should be reserved. Broil the mushrooms in an appropriate baking dish for about two minutes (more or less, depending on your oven), turn them over and broil the other side until cooked.
- Pour off the cooking liquid into the reserved marinade and stir well. If you like, remove and chop the garlic and return it to the marinade. If not, remove and use for another purpose, or discard it, as you please.
- Toss the broiled mushrooms with the marinade, parsley and a splash of red wine vinegar, then check for salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- N.B. If you don’t care to make the Escoffier Spice mixture described below, you can use a pinch of “white curry” spices made as follows: Toast in a skillet 2 teaspoons cumin seed, 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, ¼ teaspoon cardamom seeds and 1 very small cinnamon stick, which has been broken into five or six pieces. Grind toasted spices with 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds, 5 whole cloves and ½ teaspoon black peppercorns. *** You can also skip the roasting part of this if you want. The spice won't be as deeply flavored, but it will still taste great. Or, if you have recently made Merrill's Saag Paneer -- which I highly recommend -- the spice mixture in that recipe works really well too. (I've tried it, and like it!!) ;o)
- Here is the original recipe: "Choose some big, firm, fresh mushrooms; peel, wash, and drain them, make one or two slits on the top side of the mushrooms, soak for an hour and a half in oil, salt, and pepper. Broil them, turn when half cooked, so that each side may be equally broiled. Warm the olive oil in which the mushrooms were soaked, season with finely chopped chives and parsley: dish up the mushrooms, sprinkle with a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice, and pour the hot oil over them."
Escoffier's Spices (Recipe 181)
- 10 grams broken dry bay leaves
- 6 grams dry thyme leaves
- 6 grams coriander seeds
- 8 grams ground cinnamon
- 12 grams whole nutmeg, broken
- 8 grams whole cloves
- 6 grams dried ginger root (I use “cracked ginger” from Penzeys.)
- 6 grams whole mace
- 10 grams white peppercorns
- 10 grams black peppercorns
- (2 grams cayenne . . . . it’s in the original recipe, but I don’t use it)
- Grind all the ingredients together to a fine powder. Pass the spice through a fine sieve before using. Store in an air-tight container.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Mushrooms