Remember when I said that German wine didn’t get enough recognition? When it comes to Alpine cooking, I feel the same way about mushrooms. When you think German food, usually the first thing that comes to mind is sausage. Germany certainly has some great sausages, but some of my favorite things to eat over there are the mushrooms. The ubiquitous German Pfifferlinge mushrooms are technically the same as the chanterelle mushrooms that we have here, but they are smaller and have a lot more flavor. I have always had a very hard time preparing mushrooms in the same fashion that you find them in Germany. Until now!
I discovered a great local mushroom supplier at the Greenville farmer’s market. Mushroom Mountain has some of the best mushrooms I have been able to find in the area. Some of my favorite mushrooms they have are the shimeji mushrooms. They are very small, so you can cook them whole and they have a perfectly tender texture.
Despite the fact that shimeji mushrooms originate in East Asia, The flavors in this mushroom toast make me feel like I’m sitting on a mountaintop in the Alps. Paired with a crisp white wine, this toast is a perfect lunch or light dinner.
I’ve met a lot of people who don’t like mushrooms. That’s totally fine, but I’m convinced that at least 50% of these people have not had mushrooms prepared the right way (Eric used to be one of these people—I have since converted him to become a mushroom lover 😉 ). All too often people cook mushrooms over low heat with barely any fat and stir them way too often, until they become a rubbery, watery mess. The way I cook these mushrooms, you get a nice golden brown crisp on the outside but a tender inside. Combine these mushrooms with beautifully caramelized onions, and the result is a buttery, mouth-watering mixture that would already be perfect on top of a good piece of toast. But, pretty much everything is even better with cheese, so I also added some nutty gruyere and topped it all off with some fresh thyme. You need this toast in your life. It is delicious!
Caramelized Onion, Mushroom, and Gruyere toasts
2 slices of thick-cut farmer’s bread
1 small onion, sliced very thin
½ lb shimeji mushrooms (if you can’t find these, cremini or shiitake mushrooms would also work great!)
Salt and pepper, to taste
5 tablespoons butter, divided
4 oz gruyere cheese, grated
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes, or until they are golden-brown and toasty.
- In a medium pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and lower the heat slightly. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they caramelize (this should take around 20 minutes). Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.
- Using the same pan the onions were in, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and DO NOT STIR. I know it’s tempting, but put down the spoon. Let the mushrooms sizzle in the hot butter for 2-3 minutes. This will allow them to crisp up and keep them from getting rubbery.
- Stir the mushrooms and let them cook through, about 2 more minutes. If the pan looks like it is drying out, add more butter.
- Turn off the heat, season the mushrooms with salt and pepper, and fold in your caramelized onions.
- Turn the broiler on high.
- Divide the mushrooms evenly between the two toasts. Top each toast with 2 oz of the shredded gruyere, and the chopped thyme.
- Broil the toasts for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.