Champignon en Croûte

by Chef Shaya

This recipe makes about 15-20 hors d’œuvre.

For the croutons:
1 Long thin French baguette
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Freshly ground Black Pepper

For the Champignon topping:
About 10-15 Cremini mushrooms (also sold as Baby Bella mushrooms)
Blended Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
3-6 Cloves of Garlic
½ Bunch of Italian Flat-Leaf parsley (curly parsley is also good, but much harder to wash)

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F
2. Cut the baguette on a bias (diagonal cut), about ½ inch thick.
3. Place the sliced baguettes into a large bowl, and drizzle with olive oil, mix and combine the baguette slices to be evenly coated with oil.
4. Place some parchment paper onto a sheet tray or baking sheet, and lay the baguette slices in even rows, and place into the oven.
5. Lightly salt and pepper the oiled baguettes, ensuring they get evenly coated. Make sure to not over season the slices; you really want a very light and subtle seasoning.
6. Very lightly toast the slices, cooking them for about 5 minutes on one side, then flip them over and toast them for about another 5 minutes. You really don’t want to brown them so much as get the outside crust a little bit toasty, and the inner white bread should only be slightly dry, but still have a level of softness.
7. When they’re done, take them out of the oven and remove them from the sheet tray. They’ll continue to toast on the hot tray, so put them on a cool plate. Also try not to stack them as the steam will soften the middle layers.
8. While the baguette slices are toasting, brush the mushrooms clean with a lightly damp towel, and then slice off the stem so you are left with the cap and a flat underside surface.
9. Cut the mushroom caps into quarters, and set aside. Larger caps can be cut into halves first, and then those halves into thirds.
10. Slice the garlic cloves into thin slices, and set aside.
11. Place enough oil to just cover the surface of a shallow and wide medium flat skillet, and heat under high flame.
12. Let the oil and skillet heat until the surface of the oil begins to shimmer, but before the oil begins to smoke – if it’s smoking, then the skillet is too hot and immediately remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
13. Add the chopped mushroom caps, enough to loosely cover the surface of the skillet. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan, so as to not allow the proximity of the mushrooms to steam each other, what you want to do is sauté the mushrooms by extruding the inherent moisture that mushrooms have and browning the mushrooms.
14. If you have too many quartered mushrooms to sauté all of them at once, sauté them in batches, making sure to evenly distribute the sliced garlic between the number of batches you will need to sauté the mushrooms.
15. After about 3 minutes of sautéing, add the slices of garlic to the pan, and mix the ingredients evenly together. Continue the sautéing until the mushroom get smaller and darken in color. Try not to let the garlic burn and if you feel like it’s about to burn, lower the heat. You should sauté for about 7 minutes.
16. At this point, remove the sautéed mushrooms and garlic onto a cutting board, and with a chef’s knife, begin to give the mushrooms and garlic a rough chop. You want small dice, but not mushroom purée. Transfer the chopped ingredients to a bowl.
17. Make sure to clean the flat-leaf parsley very thoroughly by soaking it in water at least 2-3 times, refreshing the water between each round of soaking. After you’ve cleaned it of all the dirt and sand, make sure to thoroughly dry the leaves, because when you chop them while they’re wet they tend to get mushy and pasty.
18. When the leaves are dry, bunch them up under your fingers into a tight ball, and chop the leaves. You want to get a fine parsley chop to the leaves.
19. Mix the chopped parsley with the chopped mushrooms and garlic in a bowl.
20. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and make sure to taste the mixture until it is seasoned to your taste.
21. With a spoon, scoop up the mushroom mixture and top one side of the toasted baguette slice. Continue until all the slices have a topping.
22. You can keep the topped croutons warm in a 150°F oven until you are ready to serve.

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