Filet and Wild Mushrooms


Since I have leftover risotto with porcini from the other night, I’m building tonight’s meal around it–a grilled filet, sauteed cremini mushrooms and sauteed spinach. 

The recipe for the mushrooms was taught to me by my neighbor, Beppi.  After having these at his house, I asked him if he would someday show me how to make them.  This past holiday season when his family was visiting, he was kind enough to not only invite me for dinner, but invite me to take part in the preparation.  I’ve been making these mushrooms since then.

Besides Marsala, the other alcohol that Beppi always keeps in his pantry, and encourages me to keep in mine, is dry sherry.  Like Marsala, it doesn’t spoil, and it lends food a very complex flavor that’s difficult to duplicate with wine.   Sherry is the distinctive ingredient in these mushrooms. 

There are several tips to preparing mushrooms.  First of all, try not to wash them–they get instantly waterlogged.  This is easier with some mushrooms than with others.  Some varieties of wild mushrooms are nothing but nooks and crevices  which are filled with soil (morels, for example).  With those varieties, it’s important to rinse, but dry as quickly as possible.  The mushrooms for this dish (cremini), do not carry a lot of soil, so it’s adequate to simply wipe them with a damp paper towel to remove any loose soil. 

The next tip is one that I use in most places I use garlic–brown it in large pieces, then remove it at the end.  You’re after the flavor it imparts to the dish–not a big bite of garlic (although I understand if you choose to eat it anyway!)

The mushrooms need to go into a hot skillet in hot oil and begin sizzling immediately–no salt until they begin to brown. They need to brown quickly, then get seasoned with salt, then get doused with sherry and cooked until the sherry evaporates and leaves its essence.  Then a bunch of chopped parsley gets thrown in at the end.  These mushrooms are deep and woodsy, yet exotic from the sherry, and green-tasting from the parsley.

The other components of this meal do not require a recipe–the filet is simply coated with salt, pepper and oil and grilled on my stovetop charbroiler for about 5 minutes per side and allowed to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

The risotto from the other evening gets reheated in a skillet with some chicken broth around it (for the risotto technique, see my prior post “Risotto with Chicken and Peas”).  The sauteed spinach also makes use of the bit of leftover chicken broth I have from making the risotto the other night (see my recipe for sauteed spinach in my “New Years’ Eve Dinner” post). 

P.S.  I can’t tell you how delicious this meal was!


Sauteed Cremini

serves 2

10 oz. cremini mushrooms, wiped clean of loose soil and sliced thinly

3 tbls olive oil

1 tbl butter

2 cloves garlic, peeled and split in half 

1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 c dry sherry

2 tbls fresh chopped parsley

In a broad skillet with flared sides, brown the garlic in oil on low heat until it’s golden on all sides.  Turn up heat and add butter and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms begin to become golden (maybe 5 minutes).  Add salt and pepper to taste, then add sherry and continue cooking on high heat until sherry has evaporated and mushrooms begin to become glazed with the sherry essence (maybe another 5 to 8 minutes).  Toss in chopped parsley and serve. 

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