Wild mushrooms à la crème, served as an appetizer on the lunch and dinner menu at the Columns Hotel during the Chef Chris Canan and Brian Coates era of the mid to late 1980’s, and a very popular menu item. This item served on a “Spider Plate” with half of the plate coated by warm demi glace sauce then a spider web design made with a spiral of reduced heavy cream pushed through a syringe and then alternating lines made with a paring knife to create the spider web effects.
This image is circa 1985 and taken while working the evening sauté station when in the second Sous Chef position. This scanned image, originally taken with an Olympus OM10 35mm camera and printed as a 3×5 photograph, is a bit grainy at higher resolution in this digital format. The appetizer priced at $4.95 at the time seems like a real bargain price today for these delectable morsels. The garnish also consisted of a green onion flower and a tomato rose, adding both color and variety to the place presentation.
Crickhollow Farms out of Jayess, Mississippi drove into New Orleans for a once a week delivery of fresh herbs, edible flowers, rabbit, exotic vegetables and the wild mushrooms. At the time, there were few restaurants buying from them and it was a relatively innovative concept to have a farmer delivering fresh local organically grown product directly to the back door. Turns out, chefs at the Columns Hotel were green, fresh market minded, and had a conscience, but never made any indication of that, it just seemed like the best way to get fresh ingredients from the earth to the table. The wild mushrooms varied depending on the time of year but generally were either oysters, chanterelles, shitake, morels or others that were available. Always fresh with the exception of the morels, these in particular purchased dehydrated, rinsed and washed of any sand, and then re-hydrated in a cool bath soaking of brandy for a few days.
The preparation also includes a small one-ounce portion of Glace de Viande, which typically is a reduced veal stock. The Viande made by taking a quantity of cut and split veal bones and roasting them with a Mirepoix until well browned, typically takes several hours. The bones cut and split expose the interior and marrow, thus aiding the extraction of the gelatinous flavor components. Once the bones cooled, then covered in water with the Mirepoix and brought to a slow simmer, continuing for 8 to 12 hours, typically would be started either early in the evening or sometimes left to slow simmer overnight. Then this is strained through a cheesecloth lined chinoise and then put back on the stove to reduce the liquid volume by one-half; all the while skimming any fat or scum from the top, without removing the valuable flavoring. Strained again and then allowed to cool in shallow pans, the gelatinous Viande cut into small cubes and used in various sauces such as this one. Since you many not have the time or inclination to make your own “Glace”, linked here is one resource for purchasing small quantities of the golden delicacy.
This recipe is written for the single portion service from the sauté station and adapted here for home use as well.
Serves 1 portion
|1||Oz||Glace de Viande|
|1||Cup||Wild mushrooms: chanterelles, morels, oyster, shitake, etc…|
|To taste||Salt and white pepper|
|1.||Heat small sauté pan until hot, add clarified butter, and cook shallots until soft.|
|2.||Flame with the brandy and reduce it by ½ the amount then add the glace to melt then add the heavy cream and bring to a full simmer to reduce to sauce consistency.|
|3.||Add the wild mushrooms and cook until tender then season to taste with the salt and white pepper.|
|4.||Gently dish the mushrooms and cream onto the open side of the spider plate and serve immediately.|