Mushroom Recipes from Chef Jack Czarecki

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Jack Czarnecki just may be the world's best mushroom chef. Forage up some ceps, and try his recipe for chicken with mushrooms and pine nuts, and we think you'll agree.

Excerpted from Joe’s Book of Mushroom Cookery, by Jack Czarnecki. Used with permission of Antheneum publishers.

The flavors of wild mushrooms speak poetry in gourmet dishes in the world’s best restaurants. You can match this mastery in your own kitchen with Joe’s fantastic mushroom recipes.

Chef Created Mushroom Recipes

To mushroom fanciers, Joe’s Restaurant, in Reading,
Pennsylvania, is as alluring and replete with gastronomic
promise as a morel nestled on the forest floor. Joe’s is
the country’s premier specialist in wild-mushroom dining;
for decades, customers and food critics have hailed it as
one of the finest and most innovative restaurants in the
nation. Here you’ll encounter such delicacies as Morels
Marie (morels stuffed with pheasant mousse), Snails Suillus
pictus with a mustard and caper sauce, Crusted Beef in
Black Trumpet Sauce, and the more basic but legendary Joe’s
Wild Mushroom Soup. Here, too, you’ll find Jack Czarnecki,
third generation chef and proprietor of Joe’s, author of
Joe’s Book of Mushroom Cookery, and one of the
country’s foremost experts on finding, preparing,
preserving, and serving fungi.

Jack’s knowledge of mushrooms is a legacy from his
grandparents, who learned to gather mushrooms in Poland and
later taught their son (Jack’s father) how to do the same
in the Blue Mountains near Reading. Now Jack and his entire
family-his mother and father, his wife, Heidi, and his
three children-hunt mushrooms every day during the season for his mushroom recipes,
sometimes bringing back as many as 20 or 30 different kinds
for the restaurant’s larder.

But Jack is quick to point out that, although identifying
and picking edible wild mushrooms is best left to those
with experience, wild-mushroom cookery can be explored by
anyone. Fresh wild mushrooms are now available (in season)
at markets in many areas…and some “wild” species such as
shiitake, oyster mushrooms, and enoki, are cultivated on
mushroom “farms.” Wild mushrooms are also available canned
or dried. (Dried mushrooms are preferable to canned for
culinary purposes, says Jack, and for some species-such as
the cep-they’re superior even to fresh specimens in some
recipes.) And don’t judge the commercial button mushroom,
Agaricus brunnescens, too harshly, he says; it is,
after all, what most of us think of when we think
mushroom, and is perfectly acceptable for many
dishes.

In Joe’s Book of Mushroom Cookery ($20.95,
Atheneum), Jack explains how to choose, prepare, can, and
dry mushrooms, as well as how to make everything from basic
stocks and extracts to entrees that marry mushrooms with
poultry, fish, pasta, and eggs. Here is just a sampling of
the many fine recipes to be savored from Joe’s Book of
Mushroom Cookery.

Braised Mushrooms Recipe

Use this recipe for any mushrooms, domestic or wild. It is
an excellent way of preparing domestic mushrooms and is
also very good as a side dish for a main meal. But it can
also be the entree of a dinner, especially when the
mushrooms used are extra special. Serve it in shells of
puff pastry.

4 tablespoons melted butter
• 1/2 cup chopped or sliced
onions or scallions
• 1/2 cup water, or veal or poultry stock

• 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced or whole
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1
teaspoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1/2 teaspoon dried
savory, or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped savory
• 2 tablespoons
cornstarch mixed with 1/3 cup water

Put the butter in a saucepan, and melt over low heat. Add
the onions or scallions, and sauté over medium heat
until they are almost transparent. Douse them with the
water or stock, and bring to a simmer.

Add the mushrooms, and cover the pan with a tight lid.
Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 1/2 hour, at the
end of which they should be greatly reduced in size.

Add the salt, sugar, and soy sauce, and stir gently.
Continue to simmer for 5 minutes, then add the savory.

Thicken with the cornstarch-and-water mixture, adding a
little at time. Serve over heated pastry shells. Serves 4.

Scrambled Eggs With Mushrooms and Onions Recipe

Any kind of mushroom can be used here, but the complexity
and interest of the dish will increase with the wilder
types. The onion, that constant and faithful sidekick of
the mushroom, is again an indispensable part of this
preparation. Simply serve with toast points or croissants.

1/3 cup chopped onions
• 1-1/2 tablespoons melted butter
• 1
cup chopped mushrooms
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon sugar

• 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
• 8 eggs

Sauté the onions in the butter until they are just
transparent.

Add the mushrooms and the rest of the ingredients except
the eggs, and continue to cook until most of the moisture
has evaporated, about 10 minutes.

Beat the eggs lightly and add to the sauteed mixture. Stir
the mixture until the eggs are not quite completely cooked,
then take off the heat. Continue stirring the eggs until
the heat from the bottom of the pan has finished cooking
them. Offer with toast. Serves 4.

Chicken With Ceps and Pine Nuts Recipe

This is a very straightforward dish made magnificent by the
addition of Boletusedulis (ceps).
Accompany with mashed potatoes, and Cabernet Sauvignon
Blanc or any white Bordeaux.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
• Thighs and drumsticks (separated from
each other) from two 5-pound chickens
• 1 medium onion,
sliced thin
• 2 cups water
• 1 ounce dried ceps
• 1 teaspoon
sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon
cornstarch mixed with 1/3 cup water
• 1 small clove garlic,
crushed
• 1/3 cup pine nuts

Place a heavy skillet over a medium flame, and heat for 1
minute.

Add the vegetable oil, and heat for 1 minute.

When the oil is heated, add chicken pieces, and brown them
on each side for about 1 minute per side. Make sure that
the chicken is slightly browned before removing from the
pan. You may have to do this operation twice if all the
chicken pieces do not fit into the pan in the first
browning. If this becomes necessary, use more vegetable oil
as needed.

Remove chicken from pan, and place on a plate that has been
covered with a paper towel to absorb any excess fat or oil.
Reduce heat to low flame.

Drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil and fat remaining in pan.
Scrape any hardened fat or grease out of the pan, and
discard. Make sure to retain 1 tablespoon of liquid in pan.

Add onions, and sauté in the fat-oil for 1 minute.
Add water, ceps, sugar, salt, and soy sauce and bring to a
boil. Reduce quickly to a simmer, and allow to simmer for
15 minutes, uncovered. While stirring, slowly add the
cornstarch-and-water mixture to thicken. Add crushed garlic
and pine nuts. Add chicken, and resume simmering. Cover,
and let simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the
chicken is done. Stir occasionally to prevent any of the
solids from sticking to the skillet. Remove chicken from
skillet, place on a serving dish, and cover with the ceps
and remaining liquid. Correct for salt if necessary. Serves
4.

Wild Rice With Chanterelles and Apricots Recipe

This side dish goes best with game birds. It can also be
used to stuff small birds like quail. Just be sure to close
the open end of the bird.

1 cup raw wild rice
• Water to cover
• 3 cups water
• 1 teaspoon
salt
• 1/3 cup chopped onions
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 1-1/2 cups
fresh chanterelles, sliced, or 1/2 cup canned chanterelles,
drained and sliced
• 2 tablespoons chopped dried apricots
• 1/2
teaspoon salt

Wash the rice, then cover with water; soak for 30 minutes.
Drain off water, and rinse in cold water.

Bring the 3 cups water, salt, and butter to boil in a
saucepan. Add rice. Cover and cook until rice grains are
just tender, about 30 minutes. Pour off water. Keep rice
warm.

When rice is about half-cooked, sauté the onions in
2 tablespoons of butter, until they just turn transparent.

Add the chanterelles and apricots, and continue to
sauté for another 2 minutes.

Add the salt and the remaining butter, and stir-fry for 1
minute.

Stir in the wild rice, and blend until the rice is warmed
and well mixed with the mushrooms and apricots. Serve with
duck or any game dish. Serves 4.

Joe’s Wild Mushroom Soup Recipe

2 ounces dried ceps
• 1-1/2 quarts water
• 3 medium-sized
onions, chopped
• 1 pound beef or veal bones
• 2 tablespoons
sifted flour
• 2 tablespoons butter
• Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, bring the mushrooms to a boil in the
water,then simmer for 1/2 hour.

Strain the liquid through cheesecloth to remove any dirt,
reserving the strained liquid. Wash and slice the
mushrooms. Puree the onions in a food processor and place
the puree in a soup pot. Add the mushroom liquid, the
mushrooms, and the meat bones, and bring to a boil. Lower
the heat, and simmer for 1 hour, covered.

Prepare a roux by combining the flour with the butter and
heating until it forms a golden brown paste.

Strain the liquid from the pot, and add enough to the pan
with the roux, stirring, until the soup has reached the
desired thickness: about that of split-pea soup. Adjust
seasoning with salt and pepper, and top each portion with
1/2 tablespoon of creme fraiche. Serves 4.

Editor’s Note: To make creme fraiche, add 1
tablespoon yogurt to 1 cup heavy whipping cream and let
stand overnight in a warm (72 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit)
place.