This past weekend, my aunt and uncle, who live on lots of pretty acres near Fulton, MO had their annual Harvestfest. This is one of the much-anticipated family parties of the whole year... who am I kidding? Most of our parties are much-anticipated. Like Jesus in a tuxedo t-shirt, we like to party. Anyway, my uncle is very much about living off the earth. He hunts, he butchers, he fishes from his own lakes, and he grows lots of his own vegetables. Past the lake and the farmland, there are woods. So what does uncle do, but start growing mushrooms! Have you ever?! This is very cool. He drilled some holes in logs and got some spores online, and voila, a shiitake mushroom garden, a nice leisurely walk from their house!
He was kind enough to let me gather some of these big, meaty fungi. I took them home, racking my brain for some appropriate way to cook them. Pasta? Tart? Casserole? Then, Twitter came to my rescue yet again! Micheal Ruhlman tweeted that he had just made a blog post about cooking mushrooms! In this post he described his favorite way to cook good mushrooms... basically a very simple saute in a hot hot pan with some shallots. To me it was fate. This sounded like the best way to make use of the excellent shiitake's I had gathered!
It's simple... not even a recipe... I had about 2 lbs. of mushrooms, which I cut into bite-size slices and dried with paper towels as best I could. I heated some vegetable oil, a generous amount, in a skillet over high heat until it was quite hot. I threw in half of the mushrooms (I did not want to crowd the pan or the shrooms wouldn't brown), added some salt, thinly sliced shallots, minced garlic and a bunch of fresh thyme leaves. Thyme and mushrooms is one of my favorite flavor combinations EVAR!!! I let everything cook on high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms and shallots were soft and browned. I repeated this with the other batch of mushrooms. I served it it on sliced artisan bread that I toasted with butter in a skillet. A simple and hearty meal for a cold rainy fall evening.