This recipe is so filled with garlic it will make a grown man wince. Just the way we like it.
Text And Photo By Brittany Thomas
In my twenty five years on this planet, I have eaten a lot of mushrooms. I’ve eaten countless slices of pizza with paper thin wafers of mushroom dotted across the bubbly cheese; I’ve swapped out a hamburger for a Frisbee-sized portabella cap; they’ve been my staple side dish at nearly every steakhouse meal, swimming in butter yet lacking in real flavor; and I’ve cursed under my breath as the raw mushrooms split and cracked during my best attempt at skewering them for a kabob barbecue. Mushrooms and I? We go back a long way.
When I was in high school, we took a class cruise to the Bahamas. Now, for anyone who has ever been aboard a cruise ship, you are already aware of the sinful gluttony that takes place every time a meal is served. It’s course after course, plate after plate, each one with a heavy cream sauce pooled underneath some expensive cut of meat we’d otherwise never buy at home. And that’s the sort of indulgence you expect, I suppose. After all, my last cruise experience was for my parent’s wedding anniversary and thanks to the late night room service option, my father walked off a seven day cruise twelve pounds heavier than when he first boarded. That’s a true story.
It was on that high school cruise that I first had escargot. No one at the table wanted to order it, yet we all dared each other to, and nobody wanted to look like a pansy. So my roommate and I ordered it and waited anxiously for it to arrive. When the server set the dinged up silver tray with its tiny potholes filled with strange caramel-colored knobs of meat in front of me, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. It looks sort of boring, actually. Now, my mother explained to me once how to enjoy escargot: you don’t chew; you just sort of suck all the garlic and butter off of each one and swallow it right down. Easy. So I scooped up one of the little creepy-crawlies and down the hatch it went. It was hot, swimming in melted butter, with the scent of garlic so strong it made your eyes water just a bit. It was fantastic. As lovely of an experience as it was, I didn’t make it through the entire plate. Somewhere along the line, I spotted two of the tiny antennae poking up through the butter like a sad little flag of surrender and I couldn’t carry on.
When I came across this recipe for garlic and butter roasted mushrooms in Gourmet, it was delightfully disguised as a substitute for the escargot experience. I don’t like to think of it that way – this dish is a surrogate for nothing. You roast a few handfuls of meaty mushrooms with sweet butter, tangy capers, and enough fresh garlic to make a grown man wince. After they’ve submitted to the heat of the oven, you squeeze over a bit of tart lemon juice to liven things up a bit and a bit of minced parsley, lemony and green and wonderful. With a few wedges of crusty bread to sop up the juices in all their glory, you’ll never miss the escargot.
Brittany Thomas is a freelance food writer and the author, photographer, & publisher of the award-winning blog "If You Give A Girl A Cookie." Her writing has been featured in The Urbanite, Hagerstown Magazine, The Baltimore Sun, & The Frederick News Post. She likes chocolate cake, asparagus, blood oranges, and lemon desserts. She lives in small-town Pennsylvania with her new husband and mischievous puppy, Kona.