Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over 20 years. She has cooked on multiple television stations, including the Food Network.
Wild for Wild Mushroom Pastries
If you're anything like I am, then you look for an excuse to put mushrooms into anything possible. I've stuffed meats and other mushrooms with them; added them to soups, sauces, stocks, and gravies; and used them as all manner of side dishes.
This might be one of my greatest achievements. Of course, puff pastry is fine by me no matter what you do to it. When combined with the silky, earthy mushrooms and baked to golden crispiness—mmmmmm. Nummy. These are just plain luscious.
What makes these even better is that you can make them in big batches—and make them ahead. Bake them to just under the color you want them and let them cool. When ready to serve them, reheat them for about ten minutes in a 350°F oven. Bombshell.
You can also use any type of mushrooms you like. If you can get wild mushrooms, they're amazing. But this is honestly so good that you can use plain old button mushrooms, and they'll be great.
Tips for Success
There are a couple of things to look out for when preparing these little pastries that will make them extraordinary.
- Aim for Golden Edges: The first is to make sure the mushrooms cook long enough that the edges get truly golden and toasted. It takes just a bit of patience, but the payoff in flavor is well worth the wait.
- Add Cheese: A second trick is the Parmesan—add the Parmesan cheese and stir well. The cheese will melt and get crusty and golden on the bottom of the pan. That's perfect! Using a wooden spatula, scrape up the melted cheesy bits and stir them back into the filling. There isn't much that's better than melted, toasted cheesy goodness, so capture all of it.
- Don't Skimp on the Thyme: This is NOT a recipe for which you can substitute dried thyme. Fresh thyme here is really critical. You don't have to bother mincing it or pulling it from the stems; just throw the whole stems in when you start cooking the mushrooms. When you go to stuff the pastries, just toss aside the thyme stems when you come across them.
- Don't Undercook It: Finally, don't skip on time in the oven. Puff pastry is pretty forgiving stuff, but one problem with it is undercooking. Undercooked pastry is gummy and rather unpleasant, and it will really interfere with what you're going for—layers of buttery, flaky pastry and a rich, intensely flavored filling.
That's it—that's all you need. These really are super easy and so rewarding. Try them and you'll see for yourself!
You can also double or triple this recipe easily. I've cranked these out in pretty big batches.
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 pound assorted wild mushrooms, chopped (use whatever you come across; I often use criminis and shiitakes)*
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
*Note: The smaller you chop the mushrooms, the 'neater' the filling will be to work with. You'll also have more surface area to develop a golden, toasted exterior to the mushroom pieces.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic, sauté until fragrant and beginning to turn translucent. Add mushrooms, thyme, and garlic and cook for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, until mushrooms release their moisture and reduce by about half. Make sure you cook the mushroom mixture until the edges of the mushrooms are truly a dark golden brown.
- Stir in Parmesan, nutmeg, and heavy cream, and remove from heat. With a wooden spatula, scrape the bottom of the skillet to collect all the melted cheesy bits. Stir the melted cheese back into the filling. Allow it to cool. The mushroom mixture will thicken as it cools. The final filling will be nicely thickened and easy to work with.
- While the mushroom mixture is cooling, unfold the pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out to a 12x15-inch square. Cut sheets into 3-inch squares until you have 18.*
- Place a mounded teaspoon of mushroom filling in the center of each square. Fold pastry over-filling to form triangles. Press the edges with a fork to seal. Place on a heavy baking sheet.
- Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, until puffed and golden. These work well hot or at room temperature. They can also be reheated in a 350°F oven for five minutes, so these are a pretty neat do-ahead trick. If they last.
*Note: Here's an easy cheater trick. Puff pastry comes frozen and folded. Each sheet is folded into thirds. I just go ahead and break mine at the folds, then roll out each 1/3 sheet. Cut each piece into thirds, and there's no need to measure—you end up with 18 evenly-sized pastries.
Using Cookie Cutters
You can also use cookie cutters to shape the pastry, making circles or stars if you want. The trick with that is to make extra sure that you're carefully sealing the edges of the pastry once you place the filling on top of one shape.
If you want to use cutters, follow these instructions:
- Let the puff pastry completely thaw, then roll the entire sheet out on a lightly floured surface.
- Cut two of each shape with the cutters, placing the filling on one shape, then topping with the second.
- Seal the edges of the filled pastries with the tines of a fork to seal, and bake as usual.
If the edges aren't sealed fully, they'll tend to pop open during baking. Not necessarily a bad thing—you can always eat the mistakes!
Wild Mushroom Puff Pastry
© 2010 Jan Charles