How Do I Handle Dried Mushrooms?
I bought some dried mushrooms in France - morels, chanterelles, and mixed, and I dont quite know the best way to rehydrate them. I have heard about soaking them, but dont know how long or how much liquid, and I am scared that they will be gritty. What if I want to make a recipe that doesn't use the soaking liquid, i.e. sauteed etc.? Could anyone help me please?
You would not use morels for this, but the others should not be gritty. Grind them into powder in a spice grinder. This powder can be used to instantly boost the flavor of sauces and soups. I once had a great restaurant meal that featured chicken breast "breaded" with mushroom powder and parmesan before sauteeing.
depends upon how old the dried mushrooms are how long they will take to reconstitute. I find 10 minutes is never long enough. half an hour is more liekly. lift them out of the soaking liquid, and if you think they are still gritty, rinse them in a steady stream of water. If you are going to be using the soaking liquid, be sure to strain it through a cheesecloth-lined strainer or sieve.
Good replies so far. I'd only add that the grittiness potential can be lessened, first, by giving the dry mushrooms a quick rinse in cold running water (you won't lose much water flavor that way), and then I find it helps, after the mushrooms have softened and rehydrated, to get your fingers in there and mush around with the shrooms to loosen any embedded grit. Then if you let the bowl sit still for a few more minutes, the sediments will have settled.
I always keep the fluid. My straining method is to use regular paper towels in a colander or in a steamer insert over a pan or bowl. If I am not using the fluid right away, I freeze it in ice cube trays or small bowls, then store frozen in ziplock bags. Sometimes, it makes sense to reduce the strained fluid first--saves space, adds intensity--but don't overdo it!
The cubes of fluid are useful in risotto, cous-cous, tomato sauces, pan sauces (with cream--yum!), lots of things.
Are they whole or in pieces?
If possible take the time/bother to,separate the morels. They will be the 'sandy' ones. As mentioned pore boiling water over the morels and let sit then gently move them about so any/most of the grit falls to the bottom. Then use as others have mentioned.
When we collect our chanterelles in the fall we rough chop them and use a food dehydrator to dry them well. Then we pulse them in the food processor until they are the size of small peas. Then into Z-Locks then into the freezer. When I want to add some of them to a stock/sauce/soup I just put then them in dried. B/c they are so small they rehydrate in whatever liquid being used. They are VERY intensely flavored so I need only add about a tablespoon to about for liters of liquid. They last dried in the freezer until the next fall.
Put the amount you want to use in a small bowl, pour over some boiling water, let sit 10 minutes, then lift out the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and use them however you want, sautéing included. The grit will be in the bottom of the bowl. If you want to use the mushroomy rehydrating liquid, strain it through a coffee filter.
Good answer, though I'm a cheesecloth in a wire mesh strainer guy.
As to the OP's remaining question, if you don't use the soaking liquid, you might want to save it. It can be used in lieu of, or in addition to, stock when making a pan sauce. For an easy example, you can brown some chicken thighs in a skillet, remove, add a lipid, and some shallots, garlic, and herbs. Then add in the liquid, stir well, return the chicken and let finish at a simmer. Plate the chicken, thicken the sauce with a pat of butter and spoon over the thighs.