[Editor’s note: to echo a phrase from very sage person Caitlin at Fit & Feminist, it’s very weird blogging about food right now, but self-care is important in order to not lose one’s mind. If you’re as horrified by the actions taken by the current administration this past weekend as I am, please consider donating to the ACLU or the International Refugee Assistance Project if you can to help those who are affected.]
Deconstructed dishes are not the kinds of recipes you expect to find in a cookbook focused on country cooking until you consider that deconstructions almost work best in the country, given that you’re able to find fresh produce and the like.
The idea of deconstruction as a technique both intrigues and infuriates me; on one hand, it’s fun to play with the idea of, say, deconstructing a cheesecake and then bringing it all back together in a different way which I did a couple of years ago…and then there’s things like Ina Garten’s deconstructed lobster roll from one of her traveling shows in which she presents her husband a cooked whole lobster, some rolls, and some dip on a platter and invites him to “dig in!”
I mean, look at the still from the episode Food Network uses to illustrate this:
(This is not deconstruction. This is laziness on the cook’s end and laborious on the eater’s. Tom Colicchio would have given her some serious side-eye if she served this to him in an elimination round.)
But I digress. The most recent form of deconstruction I’ve found was in Mimi Thorisson’s latest book, French Country Cooking. I was flipping through it a few weeks ago looking for recipes that caught my eye, and when I turned to the page of wild mushrooms and an egg yolk, I was thoroughly intrigued. All she has you do is dry-sauté well-seasoned mushrooms for a couple of minutes, finish them with a knob of butter, and then transfer them to a plate that has an egg yolk on it. She doesn’t specify how to eat it, but I basically break the yolk and start coating the mushrooms with it much like you would a carbornara, and the resulting dish is one of the most sublime in recent memory. In essence, it’s a deconstructed omelet and as a starter, it’s both unexpected and really tasty while staying nice and light for subsequent courses.
If the thought of eating a raw egg yolk squicks you out, I would still recommend the cooking technique for the mushrooms if you’re in the mood for an actual omelet or a savory crepe and want to prepare them quickly. Thorisson doesn’t specify the kind of pan to use, but having used both stainless and a cast-iron skillet, the latter worked much more smoothly here and was significantly easier to clean.
Using wild or cultivated varieties of mushrooms is preferable here, but to be honest, if all you can find are cremini or even white button mushrooms, even their humble states are elevated as a result of this cooking method.
Wild mushrooms with egg yolk
Slightly adapted from French Country Cooking by Mimi Thorisson
- 1 egg yolk, preferably organic/as fresh as possible
- Handful each of two mushrooms of your choice: I’ve used white buttons, creminis, hen of the woods and oyster mushrooms here, and tend to pair one of the latter two with one of the former two
- 1 knob of butter (about a tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place a cast iron skillet on moderately high heat and heat until quite hot. In the meantime, carefully crack the egg, capturing the white in a bowl and separating out the yolk before placing the yolk carefully in the middle of a plate.
When the pan is quite hot, add the mushrooms, season well with salt and pepper, and cook until they are browned on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Add the knob of butter to let it melt, and toss the mushrooms well to coat. Remove from heat. Carefully spoon mushrooms around the egg yolk and serve immediately with a garnish of fresh parsley on top.