I've been thinking of how to make this happen since Halloween. It was then I tasted something so good, so flavorful and so gosh darn simple that I had to have it again.
Was it some fantastic chocolate covered wonderment snatched from our nephew's candy bag?
A perfect candy apple layered with caramel and walnuts and other goodness?
Uh-uh... guess again.
It was, wait for it...
I know, you're thinking what exactly were you doing eating mushrooms on Halloween? Were you shirking your American duty of filling your belly with Hershey bars and Smarties and the obligatory Bit' o Honey, even though you already know you don't like them? Heck no, I wouldn't be that guy.
This year we partook in some fun pre-Halloweening festivities, including the traditional pumpkin carving and dinner with family and San Diego. Mr. SoCal's aunt whipped up some of her notoriously delicious sherry mushrooms, and that was it for me. These things are to die for, there is no other way to aptly describe it. They cook down in sherry cooking wine for hours and hours on end until they are mere shells of their former selves, and then they are so packed with flavor its unbelievable. So that folks, is why I've had a hankering for mushrooms since Halloween. Just in time for Thanksgiving, a few of my favorite things come together for this enticing fusion of flavors.
Savory Sourdough Mushroom Stuffing
1 12 oz loaf of sourdough bread
24 oz white button mushrooms (1 1/2 package)
18 oz Sherry cooking wine (bottle size may vary)
8 oz chestnuts, roasted and shelled**
1 large sweet onion (vidalia preferably)
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp salted butter
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp fresh sage
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
**Chestnuts may be tough to find, and are a little time consuming to prep, roast and shell. They are sold ready to go at Williams-Sonoma and much less expensively at Ohnuts.com. Really, I couldn't make that up.
Wash mushrooms well and remove all stems. Set stems aside. Place mushroom caps and sherry cooking wine in a medium lidded saucepan. Add 2 Tbsp butter and leave to simmer on low heat for 3 hours.
If you are roasting chestnuts, preheat oven to 425 degrees. With a small paring knife, carefully carve an X in one side of the chestnut. Mind your digits, and keep a tight grip on the end of paring knife blade. Make sure to cut through to the inner shell and chestnut meat, which will be much easier than the initial X.
Place chestnuts on a baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes. Remove shell from chestnuts as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Chop chestnuts into quarters, and set aside. Check out a helpful video tutorial here.
Turn oven down to 275 degrees. Slice sourdough into 1 inch square cubes and place on a baking sheet. Place in oven for 3-4 minutes, until the bread feel slightly dry. If you were wise enough to tear and leave your bread out the day before, skip to the next step.
In a medium saute pan, add to 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1/2 of vidalia onion, cut into lengthwise slices. Let onions sweat and soften over medium low heat for 6-8 minutes. Add 2 more Tbsp olive oil, along with garlic, mushroom stems and chestnuts. Add salt, pepper, sage and thyme and mix well. Let cook for 10-12 minutes, until onions are slightly browned and garlic is fragrant.
Place bread cubes in a casserole dish in a single layer. Add chestnut mixture from saute pan, then add mushrooms. By now they should be 1/2 to 1/3 their original size and a lovely dark brown color. Mix all thoroughly. If stuffing appears dry, slowly add chicken stock 1/4 cup at a time. Mix well and then test if you need additional liquid.
Place in 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes and enjoy.