Photo by Charles Luce
Provenance of Dish
When I invented this recipe, it was as a solution to a delicious problem: abundance. My wife Leslie and I had just picked two backpacks full of black trumpets and I needed some way to preserve them other than dehydration. I never imagined how popular this aromatic and bizarrely licorice-looking paste would become. But I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Swiped across steamed sweet corn, smeared onto cornbread, dolloped onto pizza crust or piled atop sizzling scallops - as in the photo - black trumpet butter is mind-blowing.
Best of all it’s incredibly simple to make. Two ingredients, a big skillet and a food processor will get you a year’s worth in under half an hour, foraging time and grit removal excluded. It freezes wonderfully, keeps under refrigeration for a week or so, and is endlessly useful, as this par-baked cornbread recipe illustrates.
About 2 heaping dry quarts of black trumpet mushrooms, cleaned of grit and forest debris.
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, divided, softened to room temperature.
Chop the black trumpets coarsely.
Place a large, well-seasoned skillet over high heat.
Add 1/2 stick of the butter and melt. When butter stops sizzling and begins to shimmer, add the mushrooms all at once.
Sauté mushrooms on high heat for about 2 minutes, turning occasionally.
As they begin to release water and shrink, reduce heat to medium.
Continue to cook, turning the batch over every minute or so, another 6 - 8 minutes, or until all are reduced in size and the water has evaporated.
Remove from heat. Caution: if using a black skillet it is very difficult to know if you are burning the mushrooms. Be thoughtful and don’t walk away from the stove.
When mushrooms are cooled, add them and the remaining butter to a food processor fitted with the standard blade.
Pulse to break down the butter, then run for a minute or two, until a dark gray paste forms.
Continuing processing will smooth the paste but beware of separating the butter into cream.
Uses: on sweet corn, cornbread, scallops, pork, pizza, popcorn, shrimp, and in cornmeal biscuits.