Sunday, May 25, 2014

Foraged Wild Mushroom & Ramp Strata

And just like that, ramp season is over! 4 weeks, give or take a day or two, and the leaves of all the plants are yellowing, wilting, and dying. We went crazy, harvesting the last of the greenery last weekend. We picked enough for another batch of Spicy Black Bean Fish with Ramps, enough to fill a couple of large freezer bags, and enough for this bread pudding dish.

A strata is like a bread pudding, very rich and dense. This is not a light meal, this is not a healthy meal; with heavy cream, prosciutto, eggs, bread, butter, and cheese, it's just plain decadent. . . But ramp season comes just once a year, and it just seemed fitting to have it go out with a bang!

I reconstituted wine-cap (Stropharia rugosoannulata) mushrooms from that epic haul of a couple weeks ago to make this dish, but you could use fresh cremini or white button mushrooms instead. Tossing a few morels in would probably be pretty great as well, given how well they pair with cream.

Wild Mushroom & Ramp Strata

Serves 6 as a main course. 
Wine cap mushrooms being reconstituted in cream

6 cups of packed ramp leaves, sliced into thin ribbons
1 1/2 cups of dried wine-cap mushrooms, OR 2 cups of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream, plus more if using dried mushrooms
1 whole wheat baguette
1/4 lb prosciutto or pancetta, diced
4 large eggs
2 cups strong-flavored, grated cheese, diced (I used Swiss)
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 tbs butter, I used 1 of ramp butter, and 3 of regular butter
Mushrooms and ramps cooked down. When the liquid was
absorbed, this was added to the bread and cream. 
  1. If using dried mushrooms, reconstitute in your choice of warm water, stock or heavy cream. (I chose cream), for about 30-40 minutes, until soft. Drain completely. If you used cream, reserve the extra to use later in the dish.
  2. While the mushrooms are reconstituting, cube the baguette and very lightly toast the cubes in the oven, at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  3. In a non-stick pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic, and saute for a minute, do not brown. Add the prosciutto or pancetta, and cook though, about 2 minutes
  4. Add the reconstituted or fresh mushrooms, and cook-- stirring occasionally--until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 7 minutes. 
  5. Working in small amounts, add the sliced ramp leaves to the mushroom and meat mixture. As they cook down, add more. 
  6. Once all the ramps are in, they too will make liquid. Cook until this liquid is absorbed by the mushrooms or evaporates, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
  7. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. If you reconstituted your mushrooms in cream, feel free to start with that. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, cinnamon and 1 cup of the cheese, and whisk to combine. Once everything is mixed together, stir in the cubes of bread, and then the mushroom ramp mixture.
  8. Allow to sit, room temperature, for about 20 minutes, for everything to come together, and for the bread to absorb the cream.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350, and rub a 13 x 9 glass casserole dish with olive oil.
  10. Pour everything into the casserole dish, and top with the remaining cheese. Cook for 40-50 minutes, or until a butter knife slid into the center of the strata comes out clean.
  11. Serve hot, but it also reheats well!

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