fond of food, eating, cooking, and the tasty bits left on the bottom of the pan...
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Here at House Zube we are working to establish a good pantry collection. And not just dried pasta, canned thingies, and lots of vinegars and oils, but the freezer as well. I come from a Hunter-Gatherer background and a full freezer, and while I don't hunt anymore I can gather with the best of 'em. It's fun to wake up, want duck breast, and have some chillin' (get it!) in the freezer.
My freezer pantry is being extended to more then just purchased protein too. I have decided to make more building blocks, to have on hand, for my cooking. For years I have been making big batches of chicken stock, freezing it into blocks, and storing for use as needed. Now I'm expanding. So far I have stock, some pork braising liquid,and soffrito (slow cooked onions and tomatoes in olive oil) put away for a rainy day. Today I am making Thomas Keller's mushroom conserva from Ad Hoc. You take a bucket load of mushrooms and steep them in hot, infused olive oil for 45 minutes and then keep them in the fridge for up to a month. And per usual for Mr. TK this recipe is about layering flavors so that the sum is greater than the components.
-fast forward a couple of weeks-
"Hmm, I want chicken and mushrooms tonight," you think quietly to yourself on the ride home. You could slice mushrooms and saute in some olive oil, maybe even add a little garlic or onion. Some thyme is always nice but you don't have any and its 7F outside your car. OR you could use the mushrooms that have been so lovingly bathing in the opulence of infused olive oil for the last fortnight eagerly awaiting the chance to adorn you plate! Personally I am in favor of option B. An hour of work (including steeping time) and I will have this rich, umami-packed "condiment" ready at a moment's notice. Sign me up please!
2 lbs assorted mushrooms (its January in Maine... I used cremini, shiitake, and button)
2 bay leaves
2 cups olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
1 rosemary sprig
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbs sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon piment d'Espelette (fancy chili powder. I used guajillo. You could use ancho, cayenne, or just not)
Yields around 3 cups.
Heat olive oil, thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary in a wide bottom pot (I used my dutch oven) to 170F. Add mushrooms, bring temp back up to 170F for 5 minutes. Cut heat and cover. Let it stand for 45 minutes. Package it up in an airtight container with the mushrooms submerged and put in the fridge for up to one month. That's it. It is that simple.
Bonus feature is that when the mushrooms are gone you have some very nice mushroom-infused olive oil for vinaigrettes, bread-dipping, or whatever else tickles your fancy!
I am a self-taught cook that comes from a family of good eaters and cooks. Feeding people and watching them enjoy what I made is a wonderful feeling and immensely satisfying. Thankfully my wife is a good eater and therefore my test audience. So far only a couple have missed the mark...