One of the most memorable tastes of my first visit to Italy was that of fresh porcini mushrooms. I saw them everywhere displayed in baskets on tables or in shop windows. I ate them thinly sliced and sautéed in the style known as trifolati, or grilled with garlic oil. We have them in California when mushroom hunters find them in the hills after the rains and bring them to the restaurant. Wonderful dried porcini are also available at Italian and gourmet markets.
One easy way to feast on their fabulous flavor and perfume is in a butter for steak or veal chops. The notion of a mushroom butter may seem terribly California chic and trendy, but, in fact, I stumbled upon the idea in an Italian cookbook called I Funghi nella Cucina Veneta, written by Giovanni Capnist and published by Franco Muzzio in Padova. The book described a sort of grilled bread sandwich with a mushroom or porcini butter that caught my attention. I thought, this is too good for just toast; why not serve it with steak or veal chops? So, yet another example of the old maxim that there is really nothing new in cooking.
Rinse and soak the mushrooms 1 hour in the warm water. Drain the mushrooms; strain the liquid through cheesecloth and reserve
Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until chopped. Add the onion, reserved mushroom soaking liquid, and remaining
Heat the grill or broiler. Lightly sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper and grill or broil 3 minutes each side for medium-rare. Place a dollop of butter on each steak and serve with fried potatoes and grilled mushrooms.
© 1998 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.