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~ Shiitake Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce ~

6a0120a8551282970b0147e04a71d6970bJoe and I moved into our newly built home here in Boalsburg, PA, on schedule, on October 31st, 1996.  As planned, that gave me three weeks to get unpacked, settled in and four days to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for 22 guests coming to celebrate our holiday housewarming.  Sound overwhelming?  Not really.  At the end of the first day of moving in, all of my furniture was in place, thanks to several very big, strong, Penn State college guys (all friends of my son).  Then, working nonstop, with the help of my good friend Bonnie, during the next three weeks:  Each and every one of my carefully packed and well-indexed boxes were unpacked, each and every item was put in its designated place, all of my cookbooks were on their appropriate shelves in my research library and my new house was sparkling clean.  To put this in perspective, I had spent the previous nine months packing and indexing boxes myself, so, Bonnie and I were able for work relatively quickly.  Finally, our builder sent two of his workers over to spend a day hanging artwork throughout our new home.  All of a sudden the long-awaited moment was upon me.  There I was, alone in my beloved, glorious new kitchen.  It was finally show time!

I sliced, diced, chopped, sautéed, baked and roasted.  Every year I try to introduce one new dish and 1996 was no exception.  I prepared the following recipe for shiitake mushrooms in white wine sauce, which has the distinction of being the very first recipe I developed in my new kitchen.  My mushrooms were such a hit, they've appeared on my Thanksgiving table every year since, as well as whenever I am serving my standing/prime rib roast, which is often on Christmas day.  Thanksgiving is always a big celebration at our house, but 1996 will aways be my favorite.

Shiitake Mushrooms #2(Mushrooms In Boxes)Yes, you are going to need quite a lot of shiitake mushrooms.  I always preorder them which insures their freshness and my getting them on the day I plan to use them (so they don't take up any precious refrigerator space).

Can you believe these are all going to fit in one 3-quart casserole?  Well, they are.  Since shiitakes have a very hard, woody stem that is not used or eaten, right off the block, you're going to lose about 1/2 of their weight and volume .

4-5  pounds shiitake mushroom caps from 3, 3-pound boxes of whole mushrooms (pictured above), use all of the caps from all of these boxes 

2 1/2  pounds thinly sliced (or medium-diced) shallots or sweet onions

1  pound butter

1/2  teaspoon ground nutmeg

1  tablespoon sea salt, more or less to taste

1  teaspoon white pepper, more or less to taste

2-2 1/2 cups dry or sweet white wine, the choice of wine is yours

Shiitake Mushrooms #4 (Shallots Sauteed)~ Step 1.  In chef's pan, melt the butter over low heat.  Stir in the nutmeg, sea salt and white pepper, to evenly season the butter.  Turn the heat off.

Prep the shallots as directed, adding them to the pan as you work.  Adjust heat to saute, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft and transluscent, about 10-12 minutes.  Turn the heat off.

Shiitake Mushrooms #5 (Sliced & Heaped in Pan) ~ Step 2.  Remove and discard the stems from the mushrooms.  Slice the caps into 1/4"-1/2" strips, placing/heaping them in the pan as you work.  The pan is going to be very, very full.

Adjust heat to saute, stirring frequently, until mushrooms have lost most of their moisture, about half of their volume and almost no liquid remains in the pan, about 20-30 minutes.

Shiitake Mushrooms #6 (Liquid Evaporated Isn't it amazing how much volume and moisture the mushrooms have lost?  As you can see in the picture, when I run my spoon through this greatly reduced mixture, the black bottom of the pan is almost dry.

This is exactly what you want.  And, as with many cooking processes, it is "not so much" how much time it actually takes.  As long and it looks the way it is supposed to, the end result is going to be fab.

Note #1.  Never rinse or soak  mushrooms in water in order to clean them because:  they will absorb the moisture like a sponge, making them mushy when cooked.  If you find dirt on them, simply brush them (using a very soft brush or specifically a mushroom brush) or wipe them with a damp towel or paper towel.  In the case of these shiitakes, they required no cleaning whatsoever.

Note #2.  Both the mushrooms and the shallots can be pre-prepped 1-2 days in advance of cooking them.  How convenient is that.  Store them, separately, in two very large food storage bags in the refrigerator.  Important tip:  Using a sharp knife, pierce the bag of mushrooms in numerous spots -- this allows air to circulate, which prevents them from quickly deteriorating.

Shiitake Mushrooms #7 (Wine Added) ~ Step 3.  Add the wine.  I know, I know, this seems like we're headed backwards because the mushrooms are technically cooked.

Add 2 cups of white wine if the weight of the caps is closer to 4 pounds and add 2 1/2 cups of white wine if the weight of the caps is closer to 5 pounds.

But, even that doesn't matter very much...

Shiitake Mushrooms #8 (Wine Reduced) ~ Step 4.  Adjust heat to a gentle but steady simmer and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until a smooth, slightly-thickened white wine sauce has formed evenly on the bottom of the pan, about 20-30 minutes.

The amount of time this takes will depend how many pounds of mushroom caps and white wine you have added to the pan.  Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt and white pepper, to your liking.

Serve immediately or transfer mushrooms to a 3-quart casserole, cover and refrigerate up to 3 days prior to serving.  Return to room temperature, then gently reheat in microwave until steaming, stirring occasionally throughout the reheating process.

Shiitake Mushrooms #9 (Mushrooms in Casserole)

Shiitake Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce:  Recipe yields 3 quarts or 24, 1/2-cup side servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 14" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; large spoon; 3-quart casserole or 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish

Cook's Note:  These mushrooms are a wonderful accompaniment to almost any roasted poultry, pork or beef.  As I mentioned earlier in this spot, I serve them every year with turkey at our Thanksgiving feast and whenever I am making my standing/prime rib roast, many times on Christmas day.  If you are serving an elegant buffet dinner party, this easy to prepare and absolutely delicious side dish will serve and please a lot of happy mushroom-loving guests.

Extra Cook's Note:  These mushrooms are also delicious served at my family's Orthodox Christmas Eve celebration.  Christmas Eve is a strict fast day in our church and the entire twelve-course meal must be served without using any meat or dairy products.  Under those circumstances, I do what my grandmother taught me:  I prepare my mushrooms using margarine instead of butter.  To read more about our Orthodox Christmas Eve feast, please read my post, ~ Orthodox Christmas Eve:  Lenten Bread & Biscuits ~, found in Categories 5, 11 & 12.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2010)


Mack! Thank you for your comment. If you and yours are mushroom lovers, this is indeed a side-dish you'll want on your dinner table. Hope to hear from you again soon!

Ahh. Your thanksgiving and housewarming celebration sure was remarkable. I bet this recipe was starred in the occasion. I'll try cooking this myself.

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