Confit used to be reserved for preserving duck or goose. Today, the word is associated with any ingredient that is cooked long and slow in oil. Mushrooms are a great favourite of mine done this way - they have a juicy texture and interesting taste and can be used in salads, quickly sautéed as a side dish or served as a little hors d'oeuvre. You will end up with plenty of leftover herb-scented vegetable oil; just strain and use for cooking. These mushrooms will keep for at least 2 weeks covered in oil.
- 11/2 pounds (750 grams) mushrooms, cremini and oyster
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 4 cloves
- 1 dried chili
- 1 head garlic, separated into cloves, unpeeled
- Vegetable oil to cover mushrooms
- 8 cups bitter lettuce such as escarole, arugula, radicchio, Belgian endive, watercress
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 8 1/4-inch slices of baguette, toasted
Cut cremini mushroom stems flush with the heads. Place mushrooms in a bowl and add bay leaves, thyme sprigs, salt, peppercorns, cloves and chili and let marinate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 250 F.
Place mushrooms, spices and garlic in an ovenproof casserole that just fits them in one layer (or divide between 2 baking dishes) and pour in enough oil to cover mushrooms. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and juicy. Cool. Strain off oil before using for salad. Reserve garlic for the toasts.
Tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces and toss together in a salad bowl.
Stir together vinegar and mustard and whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss dressing with greens, reserving 2 tablespoons. Divide salad between 4 serving plates and sprinkle with herbs.
Mash garlic cloves from confit into a paste and spread on toasts. Toss mushrooms with remaining dressing.
Top salad with about 2 cups drained mushroom confit. Serve toasts on the side. Serves 4.