If you’re looking for a fool-proof appetizer–and you love mushrooms, then this is your lucky day. Caution: this dish may result in your friends hovering over the plate in a mad feeding frenzy–glasses of Pinot recklessly colliding without regret–as they devour every last morsel! It has been known to happen- I’m just saying. Seriously though, this earthy, rich and decadent Wild Mushroom Pâté is loaded with fresh button mushrooms, an assortment of dried fungi including chanterelle, shiitake, porcini, trumpet to name a few, fragrant herbs, maybe a little drop of booze– plus a heathenly dose of creamy mascarpone cheese. I created this recipe eons ago, and it never fails me. In fact, I made it for an event recently when I was at the winery. The caterer working with us loved it so much, he asked if he could add it to his own arsenal of go-to spreads. And so, it is with great pleasure, that I share this party-favorite recipe with you all as well!
My inspiration to make this dish came from a happenstance-find of the Pistol River brand of dried mushrooms in my local market. A foodie friend of mine who keeps up on such things as *the best* dried mushrooms recommended them to me. Pistol River Mushroom Farm is based in the quaint town of Gold Beach, Oregon (very near to where my family lives actually- hi everyone!), so I just had to try them. Plus I love supporting the small artisan farmers who focus on just one thing, and do it oh-so well. They’re a family-operated business along Oregon’s southern coast, and what started out as a small venture back in 1999, has now blossomed (was going to say “mushroomed” but um, well, that would’ve been beyond groan) into a thriving world-wide distribution of over seven varieties, gourmet cooking blends and more. They specialize in farming fresh Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms for part of the year, and then once the fresh season is over, source other dried varieties from parts of the world where each one grows best. The aromas of their dried mushrooms are pungent and deep, which is exactly what you want. Now, onto to this tasty, mushroom-y spread!
Wild Mushroom Pâté
yields two molds- 5-inch x 1 1/2 deep. Serves 4-6 as appetizer | printable version
1/2 ounce dried wild mushroom mix (about half a packet)
1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms (ditto above)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 ounces or one punnet of fresh brown button mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped
1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry or tawny port
1 8-ounce container of mascarpone cheese
sea salt & pepper to taste
fresh chives and thyme for garnish
individual tart pans, long terrine pan or other serving vessel
Combine dried mushrooms into a small bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside for 8-10 minutes to allow dried mushrooms to soften and rehydrate.
In a large pan (preferably cast iron), melt butter and olive oil. Add fresh brown buttons and shallots. Sauté until mushrooms and shallots just become translucent and release their liquid. Add in the dried mushrooms and half of their soaking water. Reserve the other half of the soaking water for later. Then add in thyme sprigs, soy sauce, hot sauce, sherry/port and continue cooking on medium-low heat until all the liquid has been absorbed, approximately 10 minutes.
Allow mushrooms to cool slightly, and then transfer to bowl of food processor. Pulse until mixture is roughly chopped. Add in mascarpone cheese and pulse again until desired texture is achieved. Salt & pepper to taste. I like this pâté to be more of a “country-style” with small bits of mushroom for some texture, but you can process until completely smooth if you prefer. If the mixture is too stiff, add in a tablespoon of the reserved soaking liquid.
Choose desired serving vessel and spray with a non-stick spray or line with plastic wrap. Transfer mixture evenly to vessels; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, overnight is best. To unmold from a tart pan: remove vessel from fridge and put into a hot water bath so that the water reaches 3/4 of the way up the sides of the vessel. Let sit for 3-4 minutes. Place serving tray/plate over pan and flip to release the pâté. Garnish with remaining thyme & finely chopped chives along with crackers or bread of your choice.
Note: this was a bit tricky for me to shoot –haven’t learned yet how to make this type of food shine. But picture-in-training of finished pâté aside, this is really quite tasty. Do hope you try it. With a stellar glass of Pinot of course! ;>)
As always, I like to showcase the lesser-known purveyors when I can, and especially those who produce such great food/ingredients. No sponsorship was provided for this post.