Friday, May 18, 2012

Fermented Friday: Merlot Mushrooms

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation

A few weeks ago I used Merlot in these Dark Chocolate Merlot Cookies.  I used the last of the bottle to make Merlot mushrooms.  Mushrooms marinated in wine, mmmmm.  Too bad you have to eat with your eyes on this blog, because these really don't look appetizing.  Don't worry they taste much better, appearances can be deceiving.

This is another one of those recipes I've had on the "to try" list for a long time but hadn't gotten around to actually making.  What are the chances I'll have Merlot, 2 boxes of mushrooms and remember to start them 4 hours before supper time?  The Merlot really needed to be used up so I made it a priority to plan ahead a whole 4 hours.  Yes, I could have drank the Merlot to use it up, but a) I like mushrooms and b) I'd rather drink beer than wine any day.

As an added bonus mushrooms were on sale for $0.79 a box!  Deals like that just make my day.  Call me a dork, but I love grocery shopping and trying to figure out what I can make with what's on sale.  It's like a game.  Hey, I'm not completely crazy, doing that was part of my internship last summer so I'm not the only one.  Anyway, back to the mushrooms...

Merlot and vegetable broth are poured over the mushrooms which are then seasoned with butter, rosemary, garlic and a little soy sauce.  I cut back on the butter and honestly I wouldn't add it at all next time.  There's a wealth of other flavors going on (use the butter in  those Merlot cookies instead.)  As for the soy sauce, I was a little skeptical but still added the amount originally called for.  I didn't want to find out 4 hours later that soy sauce was just what was needed.

The mushrooms simmer for 2 hours before the salt and pepper are added.  Adding salt too early can make mushrooms tough and rubbery.  On second thought maybe the soy sauce should have been added later as well since it's so salty?  Or perhaps not, I added it at the beginning and the mushrooms were still tender and juicy.  I'll stop boring you with details and look up the science on that one on my own time.  After 2 more hours of simmering the mushrooms are finally ready to eat.  Thankfully you don't need to be standing at the stove all those hours, just set them on the back burner and go about your day.

I was amazed at how much flavor was packed into these little guys.  Every bite was rich and savory, as was the sauce.  The wine and vegetable broth added depth of flavor to the mushrooms. In return the juices released by the mushrooms enhanced the sauce giving it a beefy flavor.  It actually tasted like I had used beef stock instead of vegetable broth.  I would cut back on the salt (and pepper) next time and season to taste while serving.  Part of that was my fault for not having reduced-sodium soy sauce on hand and the other part of it had to do with the brand of vegetable broth I used.  Some brands have no added sodium and some are chock full of it.  Read the labels.  A little less salt and pepper replaced with a little more rosemary would be ideal in my book.

If you don't like wine, don't worry about it.  The mushrooms don't taste like wine and the alcohol boils off.  The wine is just there to add another layer of flavor.  I used one (8 oz) box of white mushrooms and one (8 oz) box of baby 'Bella mushrooms, but only because they were both on sale.  After 4 hours I really couldn't tell any difference.  Most of my mushrooms were pretty big so I cut them in quarters but you can halve them or leave them whole if you like.  In the end they'll still be juicy, tender and drowning in a rich savory sauce.    

Merlot Mushrooms
adapted from Comfortably Domestic

1 lb white mushrooms 
1 cup Merlot
2 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, optional 
1/2 tsp kosher salt, to taste  (I'd start with 1/4 tsp next time)
1/4 tsp black pepper, to taste  (I'd start with 1/8 tsp next time)

* Clean mushrooms using a damp paper towel. Cut mushrooms into halves or quarters depending on size, or leave whole if desired.  
* Place mushrooms in a medium saucepan and pour in Merlot and vegetable broth.  Stir in soy sauce, rosemary, garlic and butter (if using).  Bring to a boil over medium heat.
* Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 2 hours.
* Remove cover, add salt and pepper and continue to simmer over low heat an additional 2 hours. 

Food for Thought: "Love, joy and peace can't be obtained by pursuing them as ends in themselves; they are the overflow and the byproduct of the pursuit of God."  

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