As today is the last day of frigid weather here, it’s a perfect excuse to stay indoors and play in the kitchen. I think a mushroom soup is in order, something we can enjoy later in the week. It’s good the day you make it, but becomes wonderful is allowed to sit for a day or two. The key is using a high quality Sherry. The stuff sold in supermarkets as “cooking sherry” should be banned – nothing ruins a dish faster. I am using a Bodegas Dios Baco S.L. NV Imperial Amontillado VOS Sherry, following the dictum that one should never cook with something they would not drink. Only about 6 oz. goes into the soup pot, but what a difference it makes!
I remember a debate years ago about chicken vs. vegetable stock when making mushroom soup. My feeling is the vegetable stock is more subtle, and lets the mushroom flavor take center stage. This is especially important when using high-quality, flavorful mushrooms. Button mushrooms are fairly insipid, and need all the help they can get, but if you have mushrooms like Chicken of the Woods, Chanterelle, Black trumpet and Porcini, the chicken stock masks their complexity.
For dinner tonight, I thought to experiment with a tin of Indian Curry Peanuts we picked up in Williamsburg. When I saw them, my thoughts immediately went to a Satay-type sauce utilizing them. I’m thinking of grinding them up with coconut milk, a little Tamari, garlic, onion, dry chili flakes, and a dash of lime zest and juice. Slow-simmering chicken in this, then topping it with fresh cilantro and some of the whole peanuts and lime wedges should make an attractive presentation. Back in the day, I would have loved this with some intense, spicy heat. But these days I would spend the next 3 days regretting the choice, so I keep my Indian/Thai/Korean dishes more on the mild side.
Our friend JT is Malaysian born of Chinese extraction, and he makes some amazing curries. His Butter Chicken is especially notable. Luckily for me, when he knows I will be in attendance he scales back on the spiciness.
So I am off to sauté some onions and start my soup.