Friday, June 26, 2009

Mushroom-Shallot Bruschetta

Kate, I'm sorry for posting right on top of you - I feel like that's how this blog goes. Nothing for a month and then everyone at once!

Anyway, this is a creation of my own and I very much enjoy it, hopefully everyone else will too.

Like pretty much everything I cook, at various times this is used to accompany cocktails, as an appetizer, for a weekend lunch, (cue discussion on the validity of the oxford comma) or as a main course - just change the amount you put in front of whoever you're feeding!

As usual, amounts are VERY rough.

ok, let's go. you'll need:

  • ~1 lb asparagus
  • french baguette
  • 10-15 shallots
  • 15-20 cremini mushroom caps (i just like the caps... sue me)
  • walnut halves (one per slice of bread)
  • chevre (1 oz per 3 slices of bread)
  • herbes de provence (use whatever combination you like - a lot of the time i just toss a sprig of fresh thyme in and call it a day)
  • 3-4 T bacon fat (if you don't save yours, start. seriously.)
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
get your oven broiling. make sure it's really hot before you put anything in.

snap asparagus, toss with a bit of olive oil, and put in a baking dish in a single layer. pyrex lasagna pan works great. sprinkle the spears with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

cut the bread diagonally/on the bias and brush each piece lightly with olive oil on one side. set aside.

cut the goat cheese into REALLY thin slices - one of those supermarket 4 oz packs should make about 12 slices. set aside.

cut off the flower and root ends of your shallots, as well as the outer layer. slice into rings, no need to separate them, that'll happen during the cooking. set aside.

clean your mushrooms and slice, medium thin (about pizza thickness works great). set aside.

put the asparagus in the oven, directly underneath the flame / heating element.

put half the bacon fat (fine fine, butter if you insist... but you're missing out) in a large heavy-bottomed reasonably deep saute pan. heat over med high heat. when heated, add shallots and stir to get them coated (if not using bacon fat, add some salt). cook them for 5-10 minutes over medium heat until they're softening and getting caramelized.

at this point the asparagus is probably getting close. take it out of the oven and carefully shake so the cooked sides are no longer facing up (should be getting very caramelized / almost charred in places), make sure they're still in a single layer, and put back in the oven.

add the remaining bacon fat to the shallots, let it melt, then add the mushrooms, a bit more salt (helps get liquid from the mushrooms) and whatever herbs you're using. stir the whole mixture gently. reduce heat a bit and keep an eye on the mushrooms so they don't get rubbery, stirring frequently. taste it, when it's done, it's done. add salt and pepper to taste.


after a minute or three of additional broiling, asparagus should be done. remove from the oven and set aside.

lay your pieces of bread on a cookie sheet, oiled side up, and broil for just a minute until they start to turn golden brown. remove from the oven, put a slice of goat cheese on each piece, and push a walnut half into the goat cheese. return to broiler JUST for a minute to toast the walnut and soften the cheese. Remove from oven.

assembly: put a heaping spoonfull or two of the mushroom mixture on each piece of bread. you have options with asparagus:

for a dinner i like to plate the topped bread and just put some asparagus spears in an "oops this is so accidentally attractive!" pile.

for an appetizer, i lay a whole spear diagonally across each piece, on a serving platter, so it looks all pretty and creates a neat visual effect when all the pieces are in a row. if you wanna be fancy AND wasteful just use the asparagus tips in this way. enjoy while hot!


Kate said...

Not a problem! I'm just happy to have a new recipe to try - it sounds fabulous! Thanks!

I have another one to post at some point... maybe after we finish hosting 40 people with a busted A/C this weekend. :o)

Kate said...

I was just reading this again more closely and noticed your comments about bacon fat.

I just today threw some out that I had saved in my fridge... for like 8 months.

Any idea how long bacon fat would actually be good if kept in the fridge?

Other suggestions for when to use it? (Anyone? How do you use it?)

I used some fresh stuff to cook pancakes the other night when I was cooking bacon, too. It wasn't really as good as I was hoping. Made the pancakes a little too heavy or something.

weareNOTamused said...

Pancakes are actually funny that way - i generally don't use it for batters, which is really where a lot of people like to use it. But i agree, unless you REALLY lay it on thick (so you essentially shallow-fry the batter) you just end up with greasy cakes... not good.

i like to use it for things like this recipe - sauteing veggies (mushrooms are classic), use a bit to caramelize onions for pizza, it's ok for fried eggs... and one batter i DO like it for is corn bread - but only if you're making it in a heavy cast-iron skillet (the skillet / fat combo REALLY helps give it that good thick crust), and of course, almost ANY potatoes (go light on those unless you're frying at a very high heat or you'll end up with a greasy mess).

i don't know how long it would last - i feel like, in the fridge, it would last a VERY long time. I just keep mine in a mason jar on the counter, but the turnaround on it is fairly quick so i've never really given it much thought.

just did some quick googling and it seems like, while everyone agrees that refrigeration is preferred, it's not needed - people have been keeping their bacon drippings since LONG before electricity! It also sounds like filtering the grease increases shelf life... but i never do, as i enjoy the little bits of bacon that remain in the fat... delish! Anyway, it sounds like refigerated filtered fat will last a year at the very least - and, i would say, if in doubt, follow your nose. rancid fat is hard to miss.

hope this helps - and i hope your weekend goes smoothly! sounds like you have a lot on your plate!

KrazyFranco said...

I kept my bacon grease on a mug on the counter all last year. It never went rancid. I wasn't feeding anyone besides myself, but I didn't give a second thought to using it.