Cocktail parties are my favorite. And, no, it’s not because of the cocktails. Okay, it’s partly because of the cocktails, but it’s mostly because, to me, a good party is made up of a range of small bites with a variey of tastes. With the holidays around the corner we’re heading into high-gear party season, so I thought I’d share one of my go-to cocktail party recipes: Mushroom Agrodolce Bites.
These little numbers have a lot going for them — they’re affordable, a cinch to make, and can be made ahead of time — but what I’m drawn to is the sweet-sour flavor. Agrodolce is a sweet-sour sauce hailing from Sicily and though it’s classically made with just onions, here it’s combined with roasted mushrooms for a recipe packed with a mix of sweet-sour and earthy flavors. If you aren’t entertaining anytime soon, serve the mushrooms (without the endive) as a side-dish as they a natural pairing with a variety of cold-weather fare from roasts to slow-cooked foods.
Mushroom Agrodolce Ragout Recipe
Makes: 10 to 15 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 pound shallots, ends trimmed, peeled, and cut into small dice
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium dried bay leaf
2 pounds mixed mushrooms, quartered
3 to 4 heads Belgian endive, trimmed and separated into leaves
Heat the oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it shimmers, add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in wine, vinegar, water, sugar, and bay leaf. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until shallots are very tender and liquid is thick and syrupy, about 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf, taste sauce, and add more salt or freshly ground black pepper, as desired. (Sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store in an airtight container.)
Meanwhile, combine mushrooms with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss to coat. Spread mushrooms in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are shrunken, and deeply browned, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove mushrooms from oven, add to agrodolce sauce, and stir to coat. Let cool slightly, at least 15 minutes. (The mushroom sauce can be made up to two days in advance; store covered in the refrigerator. When ready to use, let sit at room temperature 30 minutes and stir before serving.)
To assemble, place 1 tablespoon of the mushroom mixture in each endive leaf and serve.