Citizens! It is an indisputable fact that TFD always prefers to share world recipes of a certain provenance, a well-defined historical precedent and undisputed flavor. Today’s recipe may not hit all of those points perfectly – but it is a recipe that is very near and dear to me personally, as it was the first dish I ever prepared for my parents when I was just a young teenager! Behold a relic of the early 1980’s – while it may be a cliché, there can be no denying its delicious flavors and universal appeal! I speak of nothing less than sausage-stuffed mushrooms, as prepared by the famous duo of the Silver Palate!
Dating back to 1982, this was one of the first truly-blockbuster cookbooks and made the authors and their catering company world-famous! The book is a time capsule of late 1970’s-early 1980’s recipes, most of which (IMHO) have not aged particularly well, I’m sad to say. However, the recipes that are the true classics (and avoiding the gooey sweet horror of a drizzle of raspberry vinaigrette that permeated so many recipes of the time) have survived with aplomb, and truly are world-class.
This is one of them, IMHO.
As noted in an interesting article from 2017 in bonappetit.com:
It’s not every day you flip open a 35-year-old cookbook and think, “Hey, I’m making that coq au vin for dinner tonight.” Older cookbooks—including classics like Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking-School Cook Book and Mastering the Art of French Cooking—call to mind the sort of fancy dishes (brandied beef, for example, or scalloped potatoes) your grandmother or mom might have happily served at a dinner party. Classy, sure, but we’re not whisking that up on any given Tuesday in 2017.
The Silver Palate Cookbook is the exception. Published in 1982 by Manhattan-based duo Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso, its recipes mix Spanish, Mediterranean, and Asian flavors in a time when everyone was obsessed with French cooking techniques. Lukins and Rosso introduced their readers to arugula, pancetta, and pesto way before it was cool. Now, it’s hard to find a New American restaurant (or food magazine) that doesn’t use these ingredients.
Food director Carla Lalli Music’s mom, Carole Lalli, a cookbook editor at Simon & Schuster, produced Rosso’s next cookbook Great Good Food. She remembers how Silver Palate’s changes to familiar recipes—like adding Italian sausage to beef chili—were revelatory at the time. “For the generation before, it was very labor intensive to cook some of the things from Julia [Child] or Craig [Claiborne’s cookbooks],” Carole says. “[Rosso and Lukins] liberated a lot of people by showing them how to make really good food from scratch without working all day.”
Regardless of how old (or not yet born) you were it came out, it’s one of the most worn and well-loved cookbooks our shelves. Our staffers reflect on how The Silver Palate Cookbook still inspires their cooking.
“At some point in the 1980s, Chicken Marbella became the go-to entrée for the Passover Seder in the Rapoport household. Perhaps my mom thought the prunes and olives and capers made the dish feel all Mediterranean, which in turn made it feel all Sephardic which, therefore, made it appropriate for Passover. It’s the only time of the year that she would cook the dish and, every year, we’d all look forward to demolishing a couple Pyrex baking dishes of it. Years later, while at GQ, I adapted the recipe, subbing seared pork tenderloin for the chicken. Not to dis the Silver Palate—because who would ever do that—but I’m pretty sure my pork tenderloin version is even better than the original.” —Adam Rapoport, editor in chief.
I have taken the liberty of updating their sausage-stuffed shroom recipe for modern taste sensibilities and cooking techniques. My changes are noted in the recipe, but the key differences are pre-cooking the seasoned mushroom caps BEFORE adding the filling (this prevents the filling from becoming watery), using oil-cured black olives instead of canned black olives, using a more pungent Korean red pepper flake (buy it here) and using chervil instead of parsley (I prefer the delicate flavor of tarragon it imparts).
All that said, the original recipe is still mightily tasty and feel free to try the original version if you’re so inclined. Just don’t pre-cook or season the caps, set the oven to 450 F, and cook for 20 minutes or so until browned.
While this recipe may not include my usual stories and history – it is delicious and a huge favorite at any party or gathering. The fact that it is the first recipe I ever made does make it special to me, and I do hope you enjoy it as much as I do! 🙂
Battle on – the Generalissimo