Total time: 1½ hours, plus proofing and rising times
Note: Adapted from a recipe in "Salad Daze" by Hot Knives bloggers Alex Brown and Evan George. They write: "Nothing satiates the sentient like the gooey, almost raw central mass of a freshly baked sweet roll. As true seekers of new ways to sedate each other with homebaked carbs, we flipped the Cinnabon on its noggin' one New Year's Day and whipped up what has become our favorite recipe for savory rolls. Take everything sweet about a cinnamon roll and invert it: soft sweet bread becomes tart and savory, gooey brown-sugar butter morphs into salty caramelized shallot goo, and frosting slumps into melted aged cheese. Yeah this will take a few hours to a day… but it will hurt your friends and lovers in the most wonderful way."
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms
1/2 pound white button mushrooms
2 king oyster mushrooms
1/2 pound oyster mushrooms
1 portobello mushroom
2 shallots, sliced paper thin
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1. Place a large cast-iron skillet in the middle of the oven and heat it to 500 degrees. This will take about 30 minutes.
2. In the meantime, prepare the mushrooms. With a damp towel wipe off any dirt. If you must rinse them, do so gently and pat dry.
3. Create various shapes: Slice crimini and button mushrooms in half. Remove the bottom tuft of the king oyster mushrooms and discard, then slice lengthwise into four or five long pieces before cutting down the middle so you have short rectangles. Rip the oyster mushrooms into halves by hand. Slice the portobello into quarters or eighths as desired.
4. Remove the pan and add all the mushrooms. Return it to the oven for five minutes. Then remove again, and stir the mushrooms so that any sides unexposed to the hot iron get a good sear. Cook for an additional five minutes.
5. Remove the pan and add the shallots and butter, and toss. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
6. Final removal: Add the garlic and parsley, and set aside for 3 to 5 minutes to give the flavors time to marry. Salt generously and pepper profusely. This makes about 4 cups of mushrooms, more than you'll need for the remainder of the recipe.
Savory roll sponge
2 1/2 cups (10.6 ounces) flour
2 cups filtered water
1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, water and yeast. The resulting goo should look wet and reckless. Wrap the bowl up and let it sit in the corner (preferably a warm one) just until the sponge becomes bubbly and thick, several hours or as long as overnight.
Savory rolls and assembly
2 cups (8.5 ounces) flour, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon brewer's yeast
1 cup savory roll sponge
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup (½ stick) butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon, divided
2 pounds shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cream sherry
1 cup cast-iron mushrooms
2 cups chopped dill
1/2 pound shredded aged cheese (we use Comté)
Freshly ground pepper
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, instant and brewer's yeast. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, combine the sponge with the egg, water and melted one-fourth cup butter.
3. With the mixer running, slowly add the flour mixture until combined (you will need to switch to a dough hook if using a stand mixer, and may need to finish mixing by hand if you started with a hand mixer). The dough should be sticky and stretchy, but not very wet. If using a stand mixer, continue to mix until the dough is soft and smooth, adding flour a little at a time if necessary, about 5 minutes; if mixing by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until soft and smooth, about 7 minutes.
4. In yet another large bowl, add the teaspoon olive oil and give it a swirl. Form the dough into a ball, and roll it in the oil so that it's greasy everywhere. Cover the bowl with plastic and set it aside in a warm corner until puffed and roughly doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. Meanwhile, prepare the mushroom filling: In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add 2 tablespoons butter and swirl the pan until the butter melts. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are caramelized, 12 to 14 minutes. Off heat, stir in the cream sherry, then cook until the sherry is reduced by half. Stir in the cast-iron mushrooms, then remove from heat and set aside to cool.
6. Form the rolls: On a floured surface, gently roll out the dough into a 12-by-18-inch rectangle. Spread the sherry-butter-shallot-mushroom goo all over the giant dough rectangle. Make sure to spread evenly all the way to the edges. Apply the dill and the cheese in a similar fashion; evenly distribute all the way to the corners of your dough sheet.
7. Sprinkle salt and grind pepper all over the thing and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
8. Carefully roll the rectangle lengthwise into itself. Start at the bottom and curl inward until you have a bulging log. Use a sharp knife and slice rolls off of the left side of the log. You can make them as thick as you'd like; we like ours about 2 inches thick.
9. Gingerly place the rolls side by side (don't crowd — they should barely touch each other to give them room to expand) on a greased (with butter) baking pan, and cover them loosely with plastic.
10. Set the rolls aside until they have puffed, at least 30 minutes, then slide the rolls into the oven. Bake until the rolls are richly golden and smell amazing, 30 to 50 minutes, depending on the thickness of the rolls and how they are arranged in the baking pan. To test for doneness, stick a knife in a center roll or two — the filling will be somewhat oozy, but the dough should be baked.
Beverage: Bear Valley Black Flag Imperial Stout
Soundtrack: Inca Ore With Lemon Bear's Orchestra's "The Birds in the Bushes"
Each of 8 servings: 500 calories; 18 grams protein; 55 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 23 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 78 mg cholesterol; 5 grams sugar; 717 mg sodium.