|Tom Scocca, skeptical about cooking times.|
The caramelization of mushrooms is something I should have learned from the gallons of French Onion Soup I make all winter. But I confess to impatience with the process and have turned out many a bowl of soup that just shoulda woulda coulda have had its onions cooked longer. I think I’ve finally conquered the secret by following the Pandel/Sifton method. First of all, Sifton goes to great pains to make sure we know what we’re up against. He starts by quoting a writer named Tom Scocca whose is leading a charge against recipe writers who promise “soft, dark brown onions in five minutes. That is a lie. Fully caramelized onions in five minutes more. Also a lie”. The truth, Scocca wrote, is “Browning Onions is a matter of patience”. I might add that it is worth every once of patience you can muster. What you achieve, thanks in part to the inclusion of Madeira and the use of Vidalia Onions prized for their sweetness, is a deep, nutty flavor. My French Onion soup will never be the same.
Recipe for Creamed Mushroom Bruschetta with Caramelized Onions From Chef Chris Pandel of Chicago’s Balena
via Sam Sifton in the New York Times Magazine
Serves 4 (Easily halved for 2). Takes a good 1-hour to make.
For the Caramelized Onions:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 small yellow onions or 2 large Vidalia Onions, peeled and thinly sliced.
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
For the Creamed Mushrooms:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/2 pounds best-quality common mushrooms, ideally cremini or baby bella, cleaned and sliced
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 small shallots, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup heavy cream
For the Bruschetta:
8 pieces rye bread, sliced thick
Caramelized onions (see above)
Creamed mushrooms (see above)
2 tablespoons minced chives
First, make the caramelized onions.
Heat a heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, add vegetable oil. Once the oil shimmers, add the onions and salt. Do not stir immediately.
Wait 1 minute, then begin to stir frequently over high heat for 5 minutes, or until the onions have released liquid and started to become translucent.
Turn the heat down to medium and add Marsala.
Cook, stirring often, for what will seem like an eternity, until the onions are fully melted and dark brown, approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
Make the Creamed Mushrooms.
Heat a heavy-bottomed pan with high sides over high heat. Once the pan is hot, add vegetable oil. Once the oil shimmers, add butter. When butter foams, add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and are golden brown, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium low and, using a wooden spoon, create a well in the middle of the mushrooms. Add thyme, salt, black pepper and shallots; sweat until shallots have cooked through and become translucent, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Return heat to high and add sherry vinegar to deglaze pan, then add cream and bring to a low boil.
Check for seasoning. Mushrooms can be reserved until needed, then reheated over a medium flame. Add a splash of extra cream to loosen, if needed.
Now make the Bruschetta and assemble the dish.
Grill or toast bread to a light char.
Spread 2 tablespoons caramelized onions over each piece of toast, followed by approximately 1/4 cup of creamed mushrooms.
Garnish with minced chives.