According to its residents, the mushroom capital of the entire world is a small Pennsylvania village called Kennett Square (Town Motto: Mushrooms Are Good). The people of Kennett Square take their roles as Mushroom Ambassadors very seriously, and I warn you now: if you drive to Kennett Square from out-of-state, you must always lock your car, otherwise you may return to discover a Mushroom Ambassador has placed a giant basket of mushrooms in your backseat, along with some Educational Pamphlets (did you know, for instance, that mushrooms are Nature's Hidden Resource for Vitamin D?) Seriously, every fall, Kennett Square plays host to a wonderful Mushroom Festival, complete with mushroom soup cook-offs, a 5K mushroom run (I am not making this up), mushroom cooking demonstrations and mushroom parades. I know this because we happened to be near Kennett Square on a business trip and were perplexed as to why people dressed as giant mushrooms kept crossing the street. Anyway, in the culinary tent, one of the chefs was demonstrating how to cook this amazing-looking fungi I later discovered was a hen-of-the-woods mushroom, which he prepared with Marsala, greens, and prosciutto and which inspired this recipe. As Portobello and shitake are about as exotic as my local market gets these days, I tried to jazz up the "wild" element by infusing olive oil with reconstituted dried wild mushrooms. Thanks, Kennett Square!! (Photo courtesy the Mushroom Festival) - wssmom —wssmom
Test Kitchen Notes
If I had to select one dish to represent the quintessential “umami,” this would, hands down, be it. Wssmom’s clever idea of infusing olive oil with the concentrated flavors of dried mushrooms (I used porcini), and her suggestion to finish the dish with a splash of Marsala (I used a dry one), really put this terrific combination of mushrooms, greens, smoky meat and aromatics over the top. Next time, which I expect will be soon, I’ll build an entire meal around this, using twice as many greens, putting crispy fried slabs of polenta underneath, and a fried egg on top. I highly recommend this!! - AntoniaJames —AntoniaJames
- Serves 2-3 as a side dish or appetizer or lunch
- Mushroom-infused olive oil
1/2 cup dried wild mushrooms
1/2 cup olive oil
- Mushroom Saute
1/2 bunch greens, sliced into ribbons (Swiss chard was available, so I used that)
the mushroom-infused olive oil
1/2 pound cleaned, stemmed, sliced mixed mushrooms (I used portobello and shitake; if you use portobellos be sure to scrape out the dark gills)
1 large shallot, sliced into thin strips
1 clove elephant garlic, cut into thin strips
About 1 1/2 ounces Marsala
4 tablespoons pancetta, cut into tiny little cubes
salt and pepper
- Mushroom-infused olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover dried wild mushrooms with boiling water; let sit for 20-30 minutes. Drain thoroughly and squeeze out excess moisture. Place in a small baking dish or ramekin with the olive oil and roast for another 20-30 minutes or until they start to smell really really good. Pour off the oil to use in the mushroom saute and reserve the mushrooms for another use.
- Mushroom Saute
- Dunk the greens into boiling water for about 30 seconds, then drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
- Heat a large, heavy nonstick pan over a high flame, add about two tablespoons of the olive oil and when oil is hot, add about half the mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute over high heat until they start to get nice and crispy brown. If you can do the chef thing where they lift the skillet off the heat and flip the mushrooms in the air, do that; I can't, so I just shuffled them around a lot. Lower the heat a little bit and add half the shallots; cook for one minute; add half the garlic and cook for another minute. Add about 2 tablespoons of the Marsala and stir for a few seconds. (If it flames up, so much the better!) Remove the mushrooms, set aside, and repeat with the remaining mushrooms, shallots, garlic and Marsala.
- Wipe out the pan and add another tablespoon of the mushroom olive oil. When hot, add the pancetta and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat or until the pancetta is nice and crisp. Take the skillet off the heat, add the greens, return to the heat and cook, stirring, until greens are wilted and bright green.
- Add the sauteed mushrooms, taste for seasoning, and heat through. Serve as is, or on top of some grilled chicken or alongside a steak.