And now, a story. Once upon a time, I was a vegetarian who loved going to steakhouses. A friends birthday would approach and out of kindness to me, they’d start talking about gathering friends at a restaurant that had vegetarian options and I’d beg them to go to a steakhouse instead. “It’s your birthday! I know you want a steak! You deserve a big fat juicy slab of steak,” I’d try to coerce. Why was I such a weirdo? Because good steakhouses have even better sides, and no matter how much the waiter sneered when I ordered them without a $50 centerpiece, I knew I’d be getting some flawlessly poached asparagus hollandaise and roasted potatoes like you wouldn’t believe. And mushrooms; I had broiled, buttery and garlicky mushroom caps at Sparks over a decade ago that I haven’t forgotten about since.
If only I knew the secret: escargot! No, I don’t mean that they were pulling some horsefat-in-the-vegetarian-French-fries kind of controversy, but more or less, they were giving the mushroom caps the escargot treatment, which is to say that they cooked them in a serious helping of garlic butter, zinged it with lemon juice and showered it with fresh flat leaf parsley and as any escargot lover will tell you, snails are great and all but really, it’s all about those puddles you scoop out with pieces of crusty baguette.
I found this recipe a while back on Gourmet.com, something that hadn’t made the cut of what had to have been their final issue (moment of silence, but do you know what’s almost as wonderful?). Seeing that that makes it nearly a year old, shame on me for not making these sooner. This is an incredible, quick side dish that will render everything else on the table second fiddle. But side dish, schmide dish, right? December is about cocktail parties and small plates, and I think these would fit right in. Get everything ready before guests arrive, pop them in the oven, pour the white wine and in 20 minutes, people will be lining up with their baguettes to get a swipe. Watch how fast humble little button mushrooms can disappear.
One year ago: Coffee Toffee
Two years ago: All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough and Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Three years ago: Ratatouille Tart and Pear Crisps with Vanilla Brown Butter
Four years ago: Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake and Wild Mushroom Pirogis
Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms
Perfect as can be from Gourmet.com
1 pound mushrooms such as cremini or white, halved lengthwise if large
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle. Toss mushrooms with capers, garlic, oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper in a 1 1/2- to 2-qt shallow baking dish. Top with butter and roast, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and golden and bubbly garlic sauce forms below, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley. Serve immediately, with crusty bread on the side for swiping up the juices.