The unique woodsy aroma of the matsutake (pine mushroom) is what inspired this preparation en papillote. To tear open the parchment at the table and breathe, is to inhale Autumn in the Pine Forest. Just a few rosemary leaves and a restrained pinch of ground cinnamon enhance the earthy spice aromas of the matsutake. Butter gives the meaty mushroom a rich creamy mouthfeel and slight nutty flavor while sake adds a bit of moisture, balanced acidity and complex umami flavors.
The North American Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare) grows in fir, hemlock and pine forests along the West Coast from Canada to Northern California and is harvested from September through January.
At last weekend’s New Nordic Style dinner party we served matsutake en papillote to complement the herb stuffed roast quail over spelt berries tossed with icelandic butter and thyme, and pickled wild blueberries. This course epitomized the natural, sensuous, healthy, and playful elements of New Nordic cuisine; simultaneously familiar and exotic, simple and complex.
Slice off the bottom portion of the stem that is crusted with soil. Use a mushroom brush to clean dirt from the cap. Use a little water if necessary taking care not to get water into the gills, as they soak it up like a sponge. Some cooks will disagree with the use of water to clean the mushroom, but using a bit of water is infinitely better than serving a gritty mushroom. Use a vegetable peeler to remove a thin layer from the stem.
Slice the mushroom into approximately 3/8″ inch pieces. Cut parchment paper into a heart shape and fan slices of mushroom just off the center of the paper.
Top with a teaspoon of butter, a few rosemary leaves, a light pinch of cinnamon, and sea salt.
Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of good dry sake over the mushroom.
Crimp the parchment shut by making little folds along the edge, starting at the top of the heart.
Bake in a 450° oven for 12 minutes. Serve immediately, while the parchment is still puffed!
(We also liked shiitake prepared in this style).