I wasn’t planning on showing you this one.
It started with a Sunday farmer’s market jaunt with some out-of-town friends. Somebody suggested making pesto pasta with sausage and mushrooms for lunch. The best bargain at the mushroom stand that day was oyster mushrooms; the most appealing option at the sausage stand was lamb. So we bought a little of each, brought them back to a kitchen and dumped them in a frying pan. You know, like you do.
I only took one halfway-decent photo. That’s how unremarkable I thought this was going to be. Boy howdy was I wrong.
We started the sausage in the pan first. It did its sausagey thing, oozing gobs of fatty juices as it sizzled; then in went the mushrooms. I was expecting oyster mushrooms to do as brown and cremini mushrooms usually do–sponge up every available bit of liquid, shrink in on themselves, and turn soft and squishy.
Which they did. But once all the liquid in the pan evaporated, they did something else: they began to brown. Suddenly, instead of squidgy mushrooms and chewy sausage, we had a pan full of crispy lamb-saturated mushroom nuggets. Yeah, read those words again.
I don’t know whether to call this a hash, or a stir-fry, or what, but it was fantastic and totally unexpected. We ate it with fresh fettuccine and pesto, but I could very easily see this as a topping for creamy polenta, or an accompaniment for eggs, or even the meat in a mixed-greens salad. Heck, you could probably pile it on garlicky toast, sprinkle it with Parmesan and call it bruschetta. So simple, but soooooo good.
Pan-Fried Lamb Sausage and Oyster Mushrooms (serves 6 as a topping or side dish)
3/4 lb lamb sausage
3/4 lb oyster mushrooms
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove the lamb sausage from the casing and cut into bite-size pieces. Wipe the oyster mushrooms clean with a damp towel, and cut them into bite-size pieces (if they’re not already small).
Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a frying pan or skillet. Add sausage and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sausage is firm and the pan is full of meaty juices. Increase heat to medium-high and add mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the juices in the pan have been absorbed and the mushrooms are golden and crisp, about 10-15 minutes.
Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm on top of pasta, polenta, couscous, scrambled eggs, salad greens, toasty bread…