Deer, beer and wild 'shrooms 

Secrets to serving up a Montana-style spread

Page 2 of 3

Side dish

Confit of Matsutake Mushrooms

Adam Cooke, executive chef, Resort at Paws Up

What you'll need:

2 pounds matsutake mushrooms (Chef's note: you can substitute bolete/porcini, king trumpet, crimini or shiitake; soft mushrooms like morel or chanterelle are not recommended)

12 cippolini onions, peeled, left whole

1 head of hardneck garlic, broken apart but left in the skins

1 handful each of fresh thyme and rosemary (Chef's note: Blue Willow Farm from the Bitterroot grows insane rosemary)

1 gallon of blended olive oil or half-gallon of grapeseed oil and half-gallon virgin olive oil (Chef's note: yes, this is a lot, but you can repurpose the olive oil for other meals)

Maldeon sea salt

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

How to make it:

Using a soft toothbrush or kitchen towel, gently remove all dirt from the mushrooms. Use the back side of a paring knife to scrape the outer skin from the stem of the mushrooms and then trim the base of the stem and discard. Leave the mushrooms whole.

Fetch a pot large enough to hold all ingredients (Dutch ovens or cast iron soup pots work great). Spread the herbs across the bottom of the pot and add the onions, garlic and mushrooms, and cover with oil. Gently heat the pot to 200 degrees and hold at that temperature until all ingredients are tender and just cooked—or place entire pot in an oven at 200 degrees and cook for approximately 45 minutes.

The mushrooms and other vegetables should be strained from the olive oil and served with a sprinkle of sea salt.

If you have extra, it can be stored in Mason jars in the fridge for a very long time. The onions and garlic are just as delicious as the mushrooms and all are great served on hamburgers, panini sandwiches and omelets, or grilled or roasted with chicken or meat roasts. There's really no limit to the uses.

A word from the chef:

A confit is a preserving method traditionally done with duck legs to keep them through the winter. The legs would be slowly cooked in duck fat and then held submerged in that same fat. The same method can be applied to most any vegetables using olive oil as the cooking medium. If available, beef or duck fat can be used to preserve and add flavor to these vegetables, but I've left the recipe vegetarian here as I think it's a more versatile preserve.

Montana is rich in wild mushrooms for short periods of time throughout the year and this method is useful in lengthening the shelf life of a hard-earned pile of 'shrooms. Please note that many varieties of wild mushrooms are not edible and it is recommended that you hunt with a professional mycologist.

Side dish

Amber Ale Gratin

Billy Pipinich, head chef, Tamarack Brewing of Missoula

What you'll need:

2 tablespoons butter or 2 tablespoons margarine

6 small potatoes, peeled and sliced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

2 onions, diced

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 parsnips, peeled and sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup of Tamarack's Yardsale Amber Ale

1 cup cream

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

How to make it:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread butter in a 9-by-13-inch pan. Arrange vegetables in pan and set aside. One note: Feel free to cut the vegetables any way you wish. The best part of this dish is it will always come together.

Pour beer into a different pan and bring to a boil for two minutes. Reduce heat and add cream. Season to taste.

Pour the sauce over the vegetables. Bake for 35 minutes and test the vegetables before serving—you'll want them to be soft. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 5-10 more minutes, until cheese is crisping.

A word from the chef:

At Tamarack we believe in two things: Every customer should be treated like family and beer should always be involved in a meal. We strive to do both every day using the freshest and most local ingredients available. While some may say that in Montana this is not only a challenge but near impossible, we strive to show that anything can be done with the right ingredients, the right people and the right beer.

This dish is a perfect winter comfort food that can be made using local vegetables available this time of year. It's also easy to prepare, easy to cook, easy on your wallet and delicious. This way you have more time to enjoy your friends, family and, of course, your beer.

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