I’ve made Wild Mushroom Cobbler every Thanksgiving for about 18 years. The original recipe is from The New Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas (A treasure trove of fancy vegetarian dishes for special occasions). I’ve tweaked the recipe a lot at this point and I’ve been meaning for a long time to share it again here with all the changes that I’ve made. The problem was that I never had time to stop and take photos while hosting a big Thanksgiving meal!
On a normal year Thanksgiving at my house looks something like this…This photo is actually of an Easter dinner, but it’s the best photo ever taken of a dinner party at my house. Taken by Boo Froebel who uses her wit to great effect when taking photos.
This year, because of the pandemic, it was just me and my husband. We did do a video call with our beloved friends who usually come over. Some of us cooked and some of us played music and it honestly filled my heart the way a live gathering would…at least it’s close enough for now. I made the cobbler filling while being serenaded by friends of all ages playing guitars, bongos, whistles and harmonicas over zoom.
I actually did not finish cooking my Thanksgiving meal until Sunday, when the cobbler got a photoshoot before being consumed by my husband and I for lunch in our pajamas. It’s normal for me make this dish bit by bit over the course of a few days. The only step that I leave to the day of serving is the cobbler topping. This recipe is excessively time consuming to make. You can shortcut a few steps, but you do so at the expense of flavor. It really does take two hours to caramelize onions. It’s an expensive dish to make, so if you are going to incur the cost of these ingredients I recommend that you give yourself enough time to treat them properly.
Conversely, I have attempted to make this dish less expensive, by swapping out pricy ingredients… but given that the dish is so time consuming, you really want it to be worth the effort! The original recipe calls for a combination of fresh porcini and fresh oyster mushrooms. This is sublime, but so very expensive that I had to stop doing it that way. I’ve tried all kinds of other mixes of mushrooms (plain old buttons, cremini mushrooms, a broad variety of other wild mushrooms) and in the end, I think the best compromise is to just use all oysters mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms have the best flavor to cost ratio and they are not so delicate that you end up throwing mushrooms away because they are dried out or slimy. One year, I used truffle salt and it was really lovely. Truffle salt is expensive, but a little goes a long way! There is no way to compromise on the need for dried porcini. Less expensive dried mushrooms just won’t be as good.
The original recipe has biscuit topping and for a few years after I had to give up gluten I continued to make it for my Thanksgiving guests even though I could no longer eat it. For a few years after that, I would make the original for my guests and an extra tiny one for me with various failed gluten-free biscuit toppings. Finally, I found a biscuit dough recipe that I liked on the wonderful blog The Art of Gluten-Free Baking. For many years, everyone happily consumed a version of the cobbler made with a primarily rice flour biscuit topping. Side note about The Art of Gluten Free Baking- If you are struggling to become happily gluten-free because you really miss completely authentically traditional tasting baked goods, The Art of Gluten Free Baking site can really help you. Please please please go check out these meticulously and lovingly tested recipes.
I used to roll out and cut biscuits to top the cobbler. It looked very impressive, but the truth is that biscuit dough is better if you don’t overwork it. Now I just plop the dough on top to save time and increase deliciousness. Also, I have been gluten-free for so long now that I can honestly say I’m not missing traditional baked goods anymore. I find myself more and more interested in the flavor profiles and qualities that a variety of gluten-free grains have to offer. For the last few years, I have been making biscuits and cobbler toppings using this sorghum millet flour mix that I make in large amounts and keep on hand. My friends and family (who are not gluten-free) seem to love the treats made with this mix as well. The cobbler is now made with biscuit topping made from this mix!
Sorghum/ Millet Gluten-Free Flour Mix
*This can be made days, weeks or even months in advance. Store in a cool place. You can also use regular AP flour if you do not have to avoid gluten. I also think it would probably work with any of the 1 to 1 gluten-free flour mixes that are available these days. I make my own flour mixes to keep cost down and to avoid consuming too much of any one kind of flour. This is the mix I keep on hand for making gluten-free biscuits and cobbler toppings.
(makes enough flour mix for 2 batches of biscuits or 2 batches of cobbler topping)
- 4 ounces (a heaping 3/4 cup) Millet flour
- 4 ounces (1 cup) Sorghum flour
- 4 ounces (3/4 cup) sweet rice flour (aka mochi or glutinous rice flour)
- 4 ounces (3/4 cup) potato starch (not potato flour!)
- 4 ounces (a scant cup) tapioca starch
*You can make this days in advance. You can even make the caramelized onions on one day, sauté the mushrooms on another day and make the white sauce on a third day. Just remember to bring the filling to room temperature before topping it with the cobbler and baking.
- 2 pounds red onions peeled, quartered and sliced
- 2 and 1/2 Tb olive oil
- 2 and 1/2 Tb butter
- salt (truffle salt if you can get it)
- 1 oz dried porcini (also known as cepes)
- 1 pound fresh oyster mushrooms (or use half or all fresh porcini if you can)
- 2 cloves garlic
- pinch dry thyme (or a few sprigs of fresh thyme)
- pinch of cayenne
- black pepper
- 1/2 cup red wine
- In a large skillet, heat one Tablespoon of olive oil and one Tablespoon of butter. Add onions and salt and cook over low heat stirring frequently for at least one hour. The onions should become a dark brown, caramelized marmalade. If you can still see the shapes of sliced onions, you need to cook it longer.
- Meanwhile soak the dry porcini in 1 and 1/2 cups of very hot water for 30 minutes. When they are soft, remove them from the liquid, chop them and set aside. Strain the liquid through a mesh sieve and to remove grit . Save the mushroom liquid for later.
- While the dry mushrooms are softening, clean and slice the fresh mushrooms. It is best not to run water over mushrooms to clean them. Mushrooms are designed to absorb liquid. They will absorb the water along with whatever bacteria you were trying to rinse off. Wipe the mushrooms with a paper towel instead.
- In another very large skillet, heat the remaining butter and oil. Add the garlic, followed by the mushrooms and salt.
- When the mushrooms release their liquid, add the softened, chopped dry mushrooms along with the cayenne, thyme and black pepper.
- When the mushrooms begin to sizzle and brown, add the red wine.
- When the wine reduces by half, add the strained mushroom soaking liquid.
- When the mushroom liquid reduced by half, add the caramelized onions and simmer over low heat while you prepare the white sauce.
White Sauce for Mushroom Cobbler Filling
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoon gf flour (I use the mix that I make for the biscuit topping)
- 1 and 1/2 cups milk, heated
- In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Add the flour and stir over medium heat for three or four minutes or until it becomes golden in colour.
- Slowly whisk in the heated milk, taking care to break up any lumps that form.
- Stir for several minutes over medium heat until it is thick and silky.
- Add the white sauce to the mushrooms.
- At this point you can put the mushroom filling away to finish the next day. Just be sure to heat it up again before continuing with the recipe.
- pre-heat the oven to 425.
- Spread the mushroom filling into a gratin, souffle or another kind of oven safe casserole dish and make the biscuit topping.
Sorghum Millet Biscuit Topping (gluten-free)
*The biscuit dough should be made right before baking. You can also use regular AP flour if you do not have to avoid gluten. I also think it would probably work with any of the 1 to 1 gluten-free flour mixes that are available these days.
- 2 cups Sorghum Millet Mix
- 2 Tablespoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 Tablespoons cold butter
- 3/4 cup buttermilk, plain yogurt or kefir
- 1/3 cup grated pecorino cheese
- Make sure that your mushroom filling is warm or room temperature. If you top cold filling with dough and stick it in the oven the cobbler will burn on the top by the time the mushroom filling warms and be raw where it was snuggling up to the cold mushrooms. No one wants that!
- In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour mix, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter and cut in with a pastry blender or your fingers until the fat resembles coarse, pea-size clumps. Stir in the buttermilk or yogurt and cheese.
- Crumble the biscuit dough on top of the warm mushroom mixture and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the biscuit topping is golden brown.
I like to serve the mushroom cobbler with cranberry chutney. There is good recipe for orange and cranberry chutney buried in this Thanksgiving Menu Post from 10 years ago.