This beauty popped up just a few feet from our house, and I have made a very tenuous identification. When I first saw these a few years back, I matched it with a picture and description in my field guide to be Lactarius rubrilacteus. This one looks even closer to the photo than the first ones did.
These are apparently quite tasty, as they are closely related to Lactariusdeliciosus. Alas, I will never know or not, unless a professional mycologist shows up at the door with a skillet and some olive oil. They will still have to take the first bite.
Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. In this case, it was Easter Turkey, instead of Easter Ham. I can’t say that I have any reason to complain about the result.
The backstory: I wasn’t about to drive to the BHAM to buy a quality ham, so we fished out a 20+ pound turkey from our freezer, a Christmas gift from MJ’s employer. It was time to go all Julia Child and Jacques Pepin on this bird.
Like Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill, I needed Japanese steel for this job. There are five cuts necessary for this dish, and I pulled out MJ’s massive Japanese cleaver. Cutting off the wing tips, and throwing them into the stock pot, are the two easy ones. Then the thighs/legs come off in one piece each. Finally, the back is removed, and it joins the wing tips in the stock pot. I forgot that the giblets get boiled. Those are for giblet gravy.
Brine the Turkey parts overnight in a standard salty brine, and make the stock and a large skillet full of cornbread to use as the base for the dressing. My cornbread has no flour in it, because I use the fine ground McEwen and Sons organic cornmeal. Other wise, it’s a typical cornbread. The next day, it’s time to reconstruct the bird.
The bird rests on a big pile of Cornbread Dressing, which consists of a regular, crumbled cornbread, egg, turkey stock, cooked celery and onion dressing, with two important additions. A. D. Livingston says include a cup of croutons for some crunch, and my addition is a good hand full of reconstituted dried porcini mushrooms, which are chopped and added after soaking, along with some of the porcini water, to add a little mushroom flavor to the dressing.
Put the bird back together in a manner resembling how it looked before it was dismembered. We also baste ours regularly with melted butter while it cooks, in a 375 degree F oven. That dark brown color is a good indictor of the fowl being cooked through. That big French roasting pan is quite an improvement over the gigantic cast iron skillet we formerly used. All the meaty part of a twenty pound turkey in a ten pound skillet will strain the sturdiest oven rack.
So thanks to Julia and Jacques for forever ending the stuffing of a Turkey cavity. These brined birds stay juicy and tender, and the legs can be removed early, if they cook faster than the breast does. Put them back in to re-warm just before the cooking is finished, and you once again have a reconstructed Deconstructed Turkey.
This recipe is based on one in the superb book Preserving Italy, by Domenica Marchetti. I tasted one of these after I let them pickle for a day, and I may forsake my usual jar of emergency canned mushrooms for these. There could hardly be anything easier to make. Here’s my take on the project.
1 pound button Mushrooms
1 cup apple cider Vinegar
1/2 cup wine Vinegar
3/4 cup apple Wine, or any white Wine
1/4 cup peanut Oil
1 tablespoon Himalayan Pink Salt
1/2 teaspoon whole Peppercorns
3 whole Cloves
Small piece of a Cinnamon Stick
1 bay Leaf
Good Olive Oil
I didn’t have and/or disliked some of the ingredients in the original, and I didn’t want to wait for my personal corporate overlord Jeff Bezos to have a tiny overpriced bottle of white wine vinegar hand delivered to me in two cardboard boxes, and wrapped in a yard of bubble wrap, so I went full on Italian, and just used what I had, and what I like. The process is straight forward.
Clean the mushrooms, cut off the stems, and cut them into quarters (you can cut the small ones in half). While doing this, bring all the other ingredients to a boil, and remember the definition of non-reactive. Add the mushrooms after the boil starts, and cook for five minutes, and then let them rest. I left mine overnight, as I was up to my butt in alligators (figuratively), and had a dozen other things to do.
Get rid of the bay leaf, and put the final pickle in half pint jars, as a pound made three half pints for me. Pour a little olive oil in each jar after it is packed, which is an Italian trick that I was unaware of, but one which makes perfect sense. Process the fellows in a hot water bath for fifteen minutes.
That’s just a pressure canner with jars filled over the lids with water. Everyone should have one, but for some reason we own two, which is a long story.
Mine all sealed perfectly, and now get to age gracefully for a couple of weeks. After that, they are to be devoured.