This is something I came up with tonight, as I was trying to make different needs mesh together. 🙂 I was in the mood for mushrooms. I had leftover potatoes. I always want fennel. Voila! Potato-mushroom sauté.
I started with a half a bag of leftover fingerling potatoes (so, what? 10, maybe 12 small delicious potatoes), and par-boiled them—salted water, slow boil—long enough to get a fork into, but not long enough to be “done”.
Drain them, and let cool. You can shock them with a cold rinse if you’d like, but I just let mine hang out in a colander. Then I chopped an 8-oz. container of plain ol’ button mushrooms into quarter-inch slices and a ton of garlic (I think I used five cloves, but I lost count). Adjust seasonings as you prefer, but really, don’t be afraid to garlic it up. Get a nice, big pan…one that will provide plenty of space for the mushrooms to hang out in…and start heating some olive oil. Once that’s ready (and the oil will be slightly shimmery and fragrant, but not smoking at all), throw in your mushrooms and garlic. I also like to toss in some herbs to cook with the mushrooms and infuse them with deliciousness; today I used fennel seed, a good healthy teaspoon-ish of it, but if you don’t like fennel (and they say I’m strange) you can use rosemary or thyme…whatever dried herb you like that has staying power (i.e., basil doesn’t have the oomph to hold up in a frying pan for that long, and I’ve yet to find the point to dried parsley) and some pepper. Salt will come later; for now, just pepper it up to taste. Make sure the mushrooms aren’t crowding each other, make sure as many as possible have contact with the bottom of the pan, and once the mushrooms are in place…open up a book and start reading. I would tell you to take a walk around the block only it’s irresponsible to leave something burning on the stove unattended, but seriously. Crack open War and Peace, have a good relaxing read.
Thanks to some sort of dramatic oversight, I apparently forgot to take a picture of the mushrooms en sauté. Such is life, and it’s all part of the learning curve. Imagination time!
Fine. Back to the mushrooms. I exaggerate, but only a little. If you’re trying to caramelize mushrooms, you have to leave them alone in the pan, uninterrupted, until you see them start to shrink as the water evaporates out, and they look darker. Browner. More caramelly. Mushrooms have such a high water content that once you start moving them around, the water will disperse and you’ll have steamed mushrooms with no particular color rather than lovely golden mushrooms. Do you get my point? Put the stirrer down and walk away. Moving on.
Despite my frequent and consistent protestations, at some point you will want to move your mushrooms about. When they’re ready, dust with a little kosher salt, give the pan a shake and then go once (maybe once and a half, but don’t cross the line to soupy) around the pan with a little bit of broth. Let that all cook in together for a few minutes and then move the mushrooms and the garlic and the fennel and every good thing in that pan into a bowl, wipe out the bottom of the pan, give it a new coat of olive oil and get it back on the burner, as it is going to get used again, right away.
Cut the fingerling potatoes in half and put them, cut side down, in the oil.
Toss some rosemary in with the potatoes (because rosemary + potatoes = HEAVEN) and…pick up where you left off on War and Peace. Seriously, leave them alone for a good five or eight or ten minutes, because you need to finish cooking the potatoes and really want to develop a delicious crust on the cut side of the potato. Patience, people.
Once the potatoes are ready, pour the mushrooms, juice and all, back into the pan with the potatoes. Let them hang out together for a few minutes, and adjust seasonings to taste. Finish with some chopped fresh parsley and seriously…nom nom nom.