We were on our annual pilgrimage to the Met a few years ago and I was giddy with anticipation of getting to watch the chandeliers sail into the ether, but I didn’t expect that much from our pre-show dinner at Lincoln. Then they brought the mushrooms. I can’t remember anything else we ate that night — but what mushrooms! I continued to think about them all the while that Violetta and Alfredo sang their story to its tragic conclusion.
As you might expect, Lincoln used fancy-schmancy mushrooms, the kind with pedigree, foraged from some pristine wilderness. But in trying to re-create the Lincoln mushrooms, I’ve found that ordinary mushrooms from the Stop & Shop can join forces with the heat of your oven, a few simple seasonings, and a little technique, and be transformed into a meaty, woodsy, intensely flavored dish to serve with roasted meats or even on their own over polenta or thick slices of country bread.
Brush and trim 2 pounds of mushrooms and cut them in half (or quarter them if they’re very large). Buttons or their browner cremini counterparts work fine, though if more exotic varieties are available, they’ll add complexity. Toss the mushrooms with about ¼ cup of olive oil, season them with salt, freshly ground pepper, and a teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves (or half that, if you’re using dried).
Spread the mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 375° F for 15 minutes. Then — and here’s the technique part — pour off the liquid released from the mushrooms and reserve it, returning the mushrooms to the oven until they’re well browned but not dry, another 30 to 35 minutes. Pouring off the juices is how you get the deep browning.
When they’re done, toss the roasted mushrooms with chopped fresh herbs like parsley or thyme and drizzle the reserved juices over them.