If you were to ask me to describe a perfect evening, I would describe our first night out with our closest friends on the first day of our vacation. We spent the evening wandering around Portland, getting caught up on all the events of our year and sharing laughs over some amazing cocktails and nosh. As the weather cooled and a soft rain began to fall, we ducked into one of our favorite haunts–the Driftwood Room at the Hotel DeLuxe, where we knew we could continue our conversation long after most other restaurants and bars had closed for the night (it was Sunday, after all). The Driftwood Room is a dimly lit, cozy spot that evokes that sense that you’re about to star in your own Film Noir. The cocktails are so inventive and their “Bar Bites” serve as the perfect accompaniment. We ordered the “Sizzling Forest Mushrooms” and they were incredible! They arrived at our table in a little cast iron skillet, still sizzling from the broiler, earthy and fragrant and served with bread and cheese.
Of course, Oregon is known for its rich variety of forest mushrooms that might not necessarily be available locally, but I was determined to reinterpret this dish using mushrooms that are readily available at our local grocery store. I used a combination of white mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, beech mushrooms and chanterelles. I only bought a small handful of the chanterelles, because they are expensive: $19.99 per pound!
To make great sautéed mushrooms, it is important to use as little water as possible in cleaning them, since they are already very moist. Clean them gently with a damp cloth or paper towel and only run them under water if they are very dirty. If you have to rinse them, dry them with a towel removing as much water as possible. Cut the bottoms off of the mushrooms and slice them. For oyster mushrooms, remove the entire stem and only use the caps as the stems can be very tough.
Sizzling Mushrooms with Sage and Thyme
1 pound of assorted mushrooms (your choice), cleaned and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1-2 tablespoons vermouth or white wine
6 sage leaves, minced
2 sprigs thyme, minced
In a saucepan, melt one tablespoon of butter in about one tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat. When the oil is nice and hot, add about half of the mushrooms to the pan. If there are too many mushrooms in the pan, the mushrooms will steam. Add a sprinkle of salt and sauté until the mushrooms have released their moisture. Remove the first half of the mushrooms and sauté the second half in the same manner. Add the first batch of mushrooms back to the pan along with the chopped herbs and vermouth. Sauté until the liquid is absorbed and the mushrooms are fragrant. Serve immediately. If the mushrooms cool down before you are ready to serve them, transfer them to a broiler-proof pan place in the broiler for a few minutes to get them hot and sizzling.
These mushrooms are excellent served with slices of baguette that have been drizzled with olive oil and grilled and then topped with a dollop of ricotta cheese!