Lithuanian Creamed Mushrooms (Grybai) Recipe
This is my Great Grandmom, Anna Belskis’s recipe for Lithuanian mushrooms. She first arrived in Philadelphia in 1920 and was a member of Saint Casimir’s Church as well as the Lithuanian Music Hall Association. She passed this creamed mushrooms recipe down to my Grandmom who was been an active member of the Lithuanian community since the early 1930s and continues to attend the annual Mugė today. My Grandmom passed it down to me and today I continue to make this dish for special occasions.
From the kitchen of Anna Belskis;
written by Dan McIntyre
3 lbs. white mushrooms
1 ½ lbs. bacon
1 yellow onion (smaller than the size of a tennis ball)
2 pints heavy whipping cream
Serves 6 — 8 persons.
Rinse and clean your mushrooms and drain them. Dice the mushrooms into pieces roughly the size of a nickel. Once all of your mushrooms have been diced, add them to a large pot of boiling water. Cook until they have darkened and shrunk in size — usually about 10 minutes depending on the amount of mushrooms you use and the size that you dice them. Drain the mushrooms thoroughly in a colander and return them to the pot in which you cooked them. Make sure that you have removed as much water as possible. You want your mushrooms to be as dry as possible.
Heat a large pan on medium high heat and place strips of bacon in the pan one at a time. Cook all of the bacon until it is about a third of the way cooked. Cooking the bacon partially will allow you to dice the bacon with a bit more ease. Remove from heat and drain the grease. Do not remove all of the grease, but pour the majority out to allow the bacon and the pan to remain greasy. A small pool of grease in the pan is fine. This will add to the flavor of the mushrooms once everything has been added.
Take the bacon and dice it on a cutting board. Remember that the bacon will continue to shrink as you cook it, so it is not necessary to dice the bacon too small. Smaller than a postage stamp is fine; if all else fails just think you want to be able to gather a spoonful of all the ingredients together. Once the bacon has been diced, return it to the original frying pan and continue to cook on low to moderate heat. Cook the bacon until it is about two thirds fully cooked but still soft. You don’t want the bacon to be hard or crispy.
Dice a yellow onion and set aside. You want your onion to be diced into pieces no larger than a quarter inch in size. Add your diced yellow onion to the frying pan of bacon. Continue to cook the bacon along with the onion until the onion has begun to darken and soften. It is important to add your onion to your bacon at the right time in order to have the bacon and yellow onion finish cooking at the same time.
Slightly before the onion and bacon has completed cooking, add your heavy whipping cream. This will of course cool your mixture down. Continue to cook over a low to moderate flame until the heavy whipping cream has begun to bubble. Turn your heat all the way down, or on an electric range off and continue to stir using low heat.
Once the bacon, onion, and heavy whipping cream have finished cooking, pour the mixture into the large pot of mushrooms. Turn the heat on moderate low to low and mix the entire contents evenly. Allow the mushroom and bacon mixture to continue cooking slowly with a lid on top. Do not allow the cream to boil. After about 10 minutes of simmering, remove from heat and continue to stir off and on until you are ready to serve them. I have found that the longer the mushrooms have an opportunity to simmer on low heat, the more the flavors begin to merge.
In my family, this has always been served at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It goes wonderfully with turkey and chicken and the heavy whipping cream creates a perfect gravy for your dish. When not cooking a large bird, they also go well with pork chops. They also go well by themselves although they are incredibly rich.
I have changed my Great Grandmom’s recipe a bit; feel free to add more or less bacon, more or less onion, and continue to play with this recipe until my Great Grandmom’s creamed mushrooms recipe becomes yours. I hope you enjoy them and I know that Anna would be happy to know she continues to be a part of the community she loved.