It’s always nice to kick off the holiday season with an early gift. On the day after Thanksgiving, former New York Times restaurant critic (and current national news editor) Sam Sifton dropped back into the food section with a gift-wrapped and drool-worthy recipe/reverie for wild mushroom lasagna from Red Hook’s Home/Made, a favorite neighborhood spot.
Sifton, a former(?) Red Hook resident himself, recently encountered the dish at a wedding. Suitably awed, he pressed Home/Made co-owner and chef Monica Byrne for the recipe, to share it with the world.
“She gave me three pages of instruction — a tone poem about the importance of flavor, an exhortation on the intensity of herbs and shallots. I pulled out the tablespoons and timers and got to work. The result is…a dish to celebrate marriages and friendship on any chill night.”
Sifton being Sifton, a simple recipe won’t suffice:
“But man, those mushrooms. People were talking about them during smoke breaks on the roof, in the restrooms, down on the R-train platform bound south to Bay Ridge. Byrne, with her partner, Leisah Swenson, runs a tiny restaurant in Red Hook, Brooklyn, called Home/Made. Swenson, for her part, sells metalwork and the aesthetics of comfort and candles. Together they make quite an impression: if you ever wanted to curate an evening for battle-hardened poets, nuns who weld or any combination of people interested in the pure rush of the delicious, they would be worth a call.
A plurality of words that appear on the Home/Made menu: “cheese,” “smoked,” “bacon,” “caramelized.” Three of those four appear in Byrne’s lasagna, leaving out only bacon, which would be a fine addition. She layers smoked mozzarella over a painting of rich, garlicky béchamel and sheets of pasta, then radicchio roasted into sweetness and tossed in sauce. Sautéed mushrooms add heft and loamy funkiness, and a mixture of Fontina and Gruyère add zing.
OK. Stay calm. Take a deep breath. Just clear your schedule for the rest of the week, line up your smoked mozzarel (we can vouch personally for the glory of the versions at Caputo’s Fine Foods and G. Esposito & Sons on Court Street), pick a nice earthy red wine or two, and go.
The recipe: Home/Made’s wild mushroom lasagna, from Sam Sifton.
The reverie: A hymn to weddings, autumn, and lasagna