Mushrooms were available in Philadelphia when the Washington family lived there, during the 1790s. Washington ordered pickled mushrooms from Robert Cary, his London agent, in 1763.
This recipe is adapted from one in the Custis-family manuscript cookbook, probably dating to the seventeenth century, which came into Martha Washington's possession through her first marriage, to Daniel Park Custis. She gave it to her granddaughter Nelly Custis on the occasion of the young woman's wedding in February 1799.
This recipe is a modern adaptation by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, such as white button, cremini, or morel, cleaned, stemmed, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook for about 2 minutes. Cover the pan, and cook the mushrooms in the juices they release for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almost tender.
- Stir in the onion, and continue cooking until it has softened, stirring occasionally.
- Add the thyme, parsley, nutmeg, pepper, and salt, and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring to blend the flavors.
- Drain the mushrooms, reserving about 1/2 cup of the liquid. Return the mushroom mixture to the pan with the reserved juice. Stir in the cream, cover, and continue simmering until the mushrooms are tender, stirring often. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, stirring until melted.
- Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve piping hot.
Serves 6 to 8
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