THE KITCHEN: MELISSA RODRIGUEZ
Your restaurants: Mel’s in New York City; Al Coro and Discolo, both opening soon, also in Manhattan
What she is known for: Italian cuisine with refinement. Technical command at the service of inviting flavor combinations.
YOU COULD THINK ABOUT This dish as a stuffed mushroom next door, but it’s leaner, lighter, and works as a meal (along with a salad, maybe). In her second Slow Food fast recipe, Melissa Rodriguez grills large ruffled maitakes and dresses them with the classic elements of Italian-style stuffed mushrooms — bread, onions, garlic, herbs — plus a few surprises.
While any large mushroom will work here, Ms. Rodriguez likes the way maitakes get tender and meaty on the inside as the edges get crispy. They take well to their sharp vinaigrette of rendered soppressata pieces. Spoon it up as soon as the mushrooms come off the grill and they’ll drink it up. Croutons fried in olive oil add texture and marjoram adds a fresh, aromatic note.
“I would say the biggest mistake cooks make is undercooking the mushroom,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “These should be moving on the grill so they get really high and then moderately hot.”
This recipe offers a beautiful snapshot of the cuisine the chef creates at her new restaurant, Mel’s: classic Italian flavors served in unexpected ways. It also reflects the way Ms. Rodriguez cooks at home. “I eat a lot of vegetables with a touch of meat,” she said. “The soppressata brings a lot of flavor.”
—Kitty Greenwald is a chef, food writer, and co-author of Slow Fires (Clarkson Potter)
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While any large mushroom will work here, chef Melissa Rodriguez likes the way maitakes get tender and meaty on the inside as the edges get crispy. They take well to their sharp vinaigrette of rendered soppressata pieces.
- 2½ pounds maitake mushrooms
- 7 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- ¼ cup diced soppressata
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup coarsely torn sourdough or other farmhouse bread croutons
- 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves
- Preheat a grill to high heat. Toss the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt. Grill mushrooms over medium heat until browned and very crispy on all sides, about 5 minutes. Move mushrooms to medium-high heat and continue cooking until center is tender and warm, about 10 minutes longer.
- Make the Dressing: In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, sweat the shallots in 2 tablespoons olive oil until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add soppressata and cook until browned around the edges and shedding fat, 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in vinegar to deglaze the pan, scraping off any browned bits. Season with salt and pepper.
- Prepare croutons: In a second skillet over medium-high heat, sauté chopped garlic in 3 tablespoons olive oil for 1 minute. Add the croutons and cook until golden brown on all sides, 3-5 minutes. Season with salt and add marjoram. Swirl to combine and remove pan from heat. Place herb croutons on a paper towel.
- To serve, arrange the mushrooms on 4 plates and pour the warm dressing over them. Scatter herb croutons on top and serve immediately with radicchio or another leaf salad.
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