Today we’re celebrating one of my all-time favorite ingredients.
Happy “Day of the Mushroom”!
I love them for their flavor – meaty, earthy, and very varied from one variety to the next – and for their versatility.
Even more, perhaps, I love the magic that mushrooms work on food to make it instantly more “wine friendly.”
Mushrooms are laden with umami – that elusive “fifth taste” (after sweet, sour, bitter and salty) that’s often defined as “savory” or “delicious.”
Foods rich in umami include meat (both fresh and cured, such as prosciutto), cheese (especially aged types such as parmigiano), seafood (oily fish and shellfish in particular), soy sauce, broths – and mushrooms.
Concentrating the flavors of mushrooms by cooking them increases their umami content many times over.
I find that Pinot Noir in particular has a special affinity for umami-rich food, but other varietals can work well too.
Here I broiled up a thick steak – juicy and rare, sliced nice and fat – and served it with a full-flavored, peppery Petite Sirah.
In the photo directly above the steak, you’ll see an amazing array of mushrooms from the farmers market. All they needed was a quick wipe with damp paper towels, a rough chop and a slow sauté in sweet butter.
With this fantastic hunk of meat, plus at least five kinds of mushrooms – a veritable umami bomb – nothing has to be over-thought or overworked.
Don’t smother those wonderful natural flavors with fancy sauces – just salt and pepper will be plenty. Let the wine in your glass act as your “sauce.”
The point I’d like to make here is that sometimes, when you want to highlight a really distinctive component of your meal – such as these luscious mushrooms – you can allow it to take center stage.
Keep the steak itself simple – and let your wine play a less-prominent “supporting actor” background role.
Well, my friends, I hope you’ve enjoyed our Day of the Mushroom!
Until next time,
Cheers and happy tastings,
PS – Want to make the foods *you* love taste even better?
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I look forward to hearing from you. (And be sure to tell a friend!)
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Cheers once again, my friends,