A Public Lenten Service: Russian Marinated Mushrooms

by Bernard Brandt

I have had an unfortunate week. More particularly, my wife has had a terrible week. I’ve taken her in to the local hospital for her radiation treatment, and she has experienced such pain that yesterday most of that day was spent in the Emergency Room to get her IV anesthesia against the pain. The doctors have also prescribed for her three different types of rather serious painkillers: morphine sulfate being the least of them. It also looks as though she is going to go through more radiation for at least one more location. Assuming that anyone actually reads this blog, please pray for her.

It is also Great Lent. Most people are busy telling you what to eat, or how to eat, or, like the redoubtable Fr. Z., going on about his escapades at a Chinese Restaurant. They can do what they want. I will instead, on occasion, give recipes which are both lenten and which taste good. Russian marinated mushrooms are one such.

Ingredients:

Enough dried mushrooms (particularly shiitake) to fill a large mouthed quart jar

Enough pure water to fill that jar

Coarse salt, to taste

3/4 cup tarragon vinegar (white or apple cider will work, though)

8-10 black peppercorns

3 bay leaves

1/2 tsp sugar

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

12 sprigs fresh dill with stems, coarsely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

Order of battle:

1. Put as many dried mushrooms as one can into the quart jar (preferably one with a lid). Fill the jar with clean water. Allow to soak for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator.

2. When the mushrooms have thoroughly soaked, dump mushrooms and soaking water into a stainless steel or enameled saucepan. Bring to a boil, add salt to taste, and simmer, uncovered, for ten minutes. Then remove the mushrooms from the saucepan and reserve. Strain the cooking liquid through a coffee filter or a folded paper-towel in a large metal funnel. Return cooking liquid to sauce pan, minus 3/4 cup.

3. Bring the cooking liquid in the sauce pan to a boil. Add the vinegar, peppercorns, bay leaves, and sugar. Reduce to simmer and cover sauce pan for five minutes. Allow cooking liquid to cool.

4. Put the reserved mushrooms in the quart jar (If you wish, you may cut the mushrooms up if you think they are too large; I like them whole). Scatter garlic slices and dill sprigs in the jar as you fill it with the mushrooms. Pour the cooled cooking liquid in the jar over the mushrooms until they are covered. Top with the tablespoon of olive oil. Put the lid on the jar and refrigerate.The mushrooms should be ready in six hours, but they will continue to improve for a week, refrigerated. They should remain good in the refrigerator for a month (assuming, of course, that they last that long).

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