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Food Network Favorites: Mushroom Confit with Pasta Rags & Truffle Oil

I'm moving on from Dave Lieberman, and the next chapter to tackle in Food Network Favorites is Emeril Lagasse. This fantastic mushroom recipe gets us off to a very good start. I do think that a rather large question is left hanging, however.

In this confit recipe, 2 pounds of mushrooms are slowly cooked in the oven in 2 quarts of oil, then the mushrooms are drained and a few tablespoons of the oil are used in the final dish. So...what about the nearly 2 quarts of oil that remain? The book gives nary a hint. It's far too valuable a product to simply throw away -- it's practically mushroom-infused gold! I strained it and poured it into a clean glass container, then stored it in the refrigerator. I will be using it to brush on pizza crusts, as an oil for sautéeing mushrooms, as an ingredient in salad dressing, and so forth. It would have been a good idea for Food Network Favorites to make some of these suggestions, I think. Some cooks may simply toss the excess oil, and that would be a shame.

Other than that annoying oversight, the recipe is very good. The technique is straightforward and the results are excellent. If you don't have access to fresh pasta sheets to tear into pieces (the "rags" of the title), feel free to use other fresh pasta, like fettuccine, linguine, or pappardelle.

A side note in the book suggests using these mushrooms as a topping for pizza or risotto, so if you don't want to make pasta, you could always use the confit in a different preparation. I've added a bit of additional cooking time (up to 2 hours, instead of the book's 1 1/2 hours); depending on your oven and the mushrooms you use, you may need to cook the confit from 1 to 2 hours for tender, fragrant mushrooms. If you have leftover mushrooms, you can store them in the refrigerator for about 3 days. Store them in their cooking oil, or keep the mushrooms and oil separate, depending on your needs.

Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 to 2 hours
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

2 pounds assorted wild and exotic mushrooms, such as shiitake, oyster, chanterelles, and creminis, cleaned and stemmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp salt
2 quarts safflower oil or other light, non-flavored oil
1 pound fresh pasta sheets, torn into pieces, OR other fresh pasta, such as fettuccine
1 teaspoon truffle oil
1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 Tbsp chopped chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a large colander, toss the mushrooms with salt and black pepper to taste. Set colander aside in the sink or over a bowl, and let sit for about 1 hour so that mushrooms will release some of their liquid. Drain well after 1 hour.

In a 1-gallon baking or roasting pan, combine the mushrooms, bay leaves, garlic, thyme, rosemary, 2 Tbsp salt, and vegetable oil. Stir well, making sure that the mushrooms are completely covered by the oil. Cover the pan with its lid or aluminum foil and roast for 1 to 2 hours, or until the mushrooms are tender and the oil smells fragrant. Remove from the oven and drain the mushrooms, reserving the oil.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until al dente. Drain, and immediately toss with 2 to 3 Tbsp of the reserved mushroom oil. Add the mushrooms, truffle oil, cheese, and chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Strain leftover mushroom oil into a clean container and store in the refrigerator.



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