Sage-Battered Mushrooms with Cheddar Fonduta
Photo: by Angie Mosier FROM "Fire in my Belly"
Recipe reprinted with permission from Fire in My Belly: Real Cooking
by Kevin Gillespie (Andrews McMeel, 2012)
Yield: 4 appetizer servings
10 ounces oyster mushrooms, preferably large clusters
8 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
freshly ground white pepper and salt to taste
canola oil for frying
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh sage chiffonade
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 cup cold club soda or seltzer water
1/3 cup Candied Garlic Syrup (recipe included)
Trim tough root end from mushrooms, leaving clusters as intact as possible. Set aside.
Cut cheese into 1/2-inch chunks and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Loosely cover with wax paper or parchment paper and microwave on 50 percent power until cheese softens but doesn’t completely melt, about 30 seconds.
In a 2-quart saucepan, bring cream to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in cheese, a couple of grinds of white pepper, and a small pinch of salt until everything looks smooth. Keep the fonduta warm until you’re ready to serve it. (If you need to hold it for more than an hour, it keeps warm best in a double boiler.)
Heat oil in a deep fryer to 350 degrees. Place a cooling rack over a baking sheet. In a large bowl, whisk together cornstarch, flour, fresh and dried sage. Add a few ice cubes to the club soda and swirl to chill. Remove ice cubes and whisk club soda into cornstarch mixture to form a smooth batter. Working with 1 mushroom cluster at a time, dip and swirl cluster in batter to completely coat mushrooms. Let excess batter drip away, then drop clusters, 1 by 1, into the fryer and fry until crispy, about 2 minutes. The mushrooms won’t brown but will have a very crispy coating.
Using a spider strainer or tongs, transfer fried mushrooms to rack and immediately sprinkle with salt.
For each plate, spoon one-quarter of fonduta in the center, drizzle with Candied Garlic Syrup, then mound one-quarter of fried mushrooms on top.