Wood can truly be a game-changer in the culinary world, just as important as fat or salt. As it burns, wood releases delightful chemical compounds that infuse your food with incredible flavors and aromas. In this particular dish, inspired by the talented Swedish mushroom forager and chef Elle Nikishkova, we’re using applewood and juniper to add a depth of flavor to oyster and chanterelle mushrooms, complemented by a rich crème fraîche.
To prepare the oyster and chanterelle mushrooms, simply season them with salt and pepper before letting them rest in the refrigerator for an extended period. This helps to draw out the moisture, allowing them to caramelize quickly on the grill while retaining their meaty and tender texture. When it’s time to smoke these flavorful mushrooms, just place an applewood log alongside the coals or put wood chunks directly on top of the coals. As for the crème fraîche, simply place a juniper branch or juniper berries directly onto the coals for that extra touch of smoky goodness.
Active Time: 30 mins | Refrigerate Time: 6 hrs | Total Time: 7 hrs | Servings: 4
- 1 ½ pounds mixed oyster mushrooms and chanterelle mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (18- x 16- x 3-inch) log of applewood or 4 (4- x 2-inch) applewood chunks, for grilling
- 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil, plus more for grilling
- 1 (8-ounce) container crème fraîche
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries or 1 (8-inch) branch of fresh juniper
- 1 cup mixed tender fresh greens and herbs (such as flat-leaf parsley leaves, tarragon leaves, arugula, mizuna, and baby mustard greens)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or Champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Clean mushrooms with a brush to remove any dirt or debris. If mushrooms are difficult to clean with a brush without bruising, fill a salad spinner with cold water, add mushrooms to the basket, and quickly plunge them into the water, agitating to remove dirt. Empty the dirty water, and quickly but gently spin the mushrooms dry. Arrange cleaned mushrooms on a baking sheet lined with paper towels, and season with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper. Refrigerate mushrooms, uncovered, for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days.
- Heat one chimney of charcoal until flames subside and coals are lightly covered in ash. Arrange coals for two-zone cooking: Bank coals along half of the bottom grate of a charcoal grill. Place applewood logs along the edge of the coals. Place the cooking grate over the coals; open the bottom and top vents of the grill. Close the grill lid, and heat to medium-high (400°F to 450°F).
- Blot any moisture from the surface of the mushrooms, and transfer them to a large bowl. Toss with oil, and arrange in a single layer on oiled grates over direct heat. Grill, uncovered, turning occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, deeply caramelized on the surface, and crispy in some areas, 10 to 12 minutes. As mushrooms finish cooking, transfer to grate over indirect heat. When all mushrooms are cooked, transfer to a bowl. Season with remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.
- Place crème fraîche in a shallow 6-inch-wide heatproof metal pan or ceramic dish, such as a small cake pan or crème brûlée dish, and place on the cool side of the grill. Working quickly, add juniper berries (or branch, if using) to hot coals, and cover the grill with open lid vents over crème fraîche. Smoke crème fraîche until melted and light brown on the surface, about 5 minutes. Uncover and carefully remove the dish to a heatproof surface.
- Toss greens with lemon juice. Divide crème fraîche among plates, and scatter mushrooms over crème fraîche. Drizzle each plate with 1/4 teaspoon honey, and top loosely with greens. Serve immediately.
Mushrooms and crème fraîche may be cooked up to 2 days ahead. Let cool, cover, and refrigerate; reheat before serving.
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