Sunday, September 23, 2012

Monster Shitake

Year three and the shitake logs are going strong.  I pulled a 10" mushroom still fresh off one of our hickory logs.  Commercial shitakes are grown on oak, which wind up with the strong tannic taste characteristic in Oriental recipes.  The hickory produces a mild nutty taste, perfect for the venison pot pie they found themselves in.

After yesterday's haul, the next batch should be ready in a couple days.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Understanding Mushrooms

Thank you everyone for attending the presentation on mushrooms last night.  It was great to see all of the interest and there were a lot of fantastic questions.  I had a lot of fun pulling the material together and presenting it.

Here's the slide deck that I went through.  I have this saved as a PowerPoint 2010 show, which supports the animations with the pictures.  For those that don't use PowerPoint, the second link is for a PDF, but there are some pictures missing from this version.



Friday, April 13, 2012

Truffled Chicken Mousse

One of the by-products of raising our own meat chickens is a rather large volume of livers.  While the occasional liver dish can be quite good, I find I usually turn my eye to other items in the freezer and the livers get backlogged.  This dish is an inexpensive pleasure that will likely use up my liver supply well in advance of our next batch of chickens.

This recipe is for a rich and aromatic mousse that has a subtle rather than overpowering liver flavor. The generous portion of butter creates an experience similar to foie gras while the addition of fresh egg yolks enhances the richness and creaminess of the dish. Truffles send the spread to a new level. Caution should be applied with this dish because it is truly addictive and is far from low-fat.There are plenty of very good liver mousse recipes on the shelf and on the net, and while this is my own take on it I have to give credit to the dozens of recipes I've perused for technique and proportion.

1.5 pounds Free range chicken livers
2 cups Milk
3 Sticks unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup Diced shallots
1 tablespoon Dried french tarragon (or twice as much fresh)
1 teaspoon White pepper
1 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Madeira
3 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/4 cup Light cream
3 Farm fresh egg yolks
1 black truffle

Rinse livers in cold water and soak in milk over night in the fridge.

The next day, set the butter out and bring to room temperature. Pour the livers into a colander and let strain. Stir the livers with your hand to loosen any pockets of milk, but do not rinse. Discard the milk.

Melt 3 Tbs of butter in a medium pan, add the shallots and saute on low heat. Do not let them brown. Add the tarragon, white pepper & black pepper. Lightly saute until the shallots are soft and just starting to stick to the pan. Deglaze with 1/4 cup Madeira and scrape the pan of any bits. Reduce the liquid by 2/3 to 3/4, stirring occasionally. Scrape the mixture into a food processor equipped with the metal blade.

Return the pan to the flame, add 3 Tbs of butter and increase to medium heat. Saute the chicken livers in small batches, turning over after 2-3 minutes. Do not crowd the livers. The liver should be lightly browned, but still slightly pink on the interior. Transfer each batch to the food processor when cooked. After the last batch of livers is complete, deglaze the pan with the remaining 1/4 cup Madeira and reduce by 2/3. Stir frequently to incorporate any bits of liver and add to the food processor.

Add the cream and salt to the liver mix. Dice the truffle and add to the mix. Cover the food processor and begin chopping. While mixing, add one stick of butter in 2 Tbs chunks, then the egg yolks and remaining butter in 2 Tbs chunks and continue processing until the pate is smooth and uniform. It should have the texture of a semi-thick sauce. Only use fresh local eggs for this step (we used some from our chickens), otherwise simply skip them.

Pour the pate into a medium strainer and push through with a spatula. Transfer to serving dishes, cover and place in the fridge overnight. Serve with your favorite crackers, bread or crostini. This is a fairly large batch of pate and ready to serve dishes can be frozen for later use.