Mushroom Essence Recipe

* One oz. = 2/3 cup.

Suggested mushrooms are cepes, porcini, Steinpilze or boletes marketed as "Chilean dried mushrooms."

Step 1

Combine mushrooms in a bowl with 4 cups very warm water. Push them under the surface, weight them with a saucer, and let them soak overnight or for at least 6 hours, until they are very soft. Stir them occasionally.

Step 2

Lift mushrooms from the liquid with a slotted spoon (save the liquid) and chop them fine, saving as much juice as possible. Combine them with the remaining 2 cups water in a saucepan, bring them to a simmer, and simmer them, covered, for 20 minutes.

Step 3

Meanwhile, to clear the soaking liquid of grit, pour it carefully into a bowl, leaving behind the sediment - this is certain to be sandy. Let the liquid settle again and again pour it off; repeat, if necessary, to be sure any grit has been left behind.

Step 4

Pour the simmered mushrooms and their liquid into a sieve set over a bowl and lined with fine nylon net or two layers of dampened cheesecloth. Press hard on the mushrooms to extract all possible liquid; discard the debris. Let this second batch of liquid settle, then decant it as described for the soaking liquid; repeat if necessary.

Step 5

Combine the two batches of liquid with the shallots, peppercorns, mace and bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer it briskly, uncovered, until it has reduced to 2 cups.

Step 6

Strain out the solids and let the concentrated liquid settle for one last time - we're still on the track of any sand that may remain. Decant the cooled essence, then freeze it in an ice-cube tray. Remove the cubes from the tray and store them in an airtight freezer container. Keeps for up to a year in the freezer.

Makes: 16 cubes, about 2 tb. each.

Things You'll Need

  • 1oz Boletus mushrooms, dried*
  • 6c Very warm water
  • 2md Shallots, peeled & chopped
  • 6ea Peppercorns
  • 1ea Blade whole mace -=OR=-
  • 1pn Ground mace
  • 1/2sm Bay leaf

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