It always amazes me how this meatless spread really does look like perfectly prepared chopped liver. I’ll often include it when I want to serve something savory to my vegetarian friends and family members before dinner. Having said that, my family (most of whom are all devout carnivores) adores this wonderful mixture made from an abundance of mixed sautéed mushrooms, onions, garlic and firm cooked eggs. Jon, my husband, has requested that I keep this mushroom spread in the house all the time, so he can enjoy it for breakfast, on his morning toast!
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Cut off and discard the stems of the shiitake mushrooms and trim away any tough bottoms on the stems of the button mushrooms. Chop the mushrooms, into small but textural pieces and combine them in one bowl.
Place them in a 2-quart saucepan and add enough cold water to cover the eggs by 2 inches. Place the pan, uncovered, over medium heat and, as soon as the water begins to bubble, sprinkle in a generous teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a full boil, then cover the pan and remove it from the hot burner. Let the pan sit undisturbed for 15 minutes. Drain and immediately run the eggs under cool water, just until they’re cool enough to handle. While still very warm, crack and remove the shell. Place the eggs in a large mixing bowl.
Heat a large 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat and, when hot, add 2 tablespoons of the oil. When the oil is very hot, but not smoking, stir in the onions. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are reduced and they begin to turn golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in half of the garlic, reduce the heat to medium-high, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deeply caramelized, about 10 minutes more. (If at any time the pan seems too dry, causing the onions to burn, add a bit more oil.) Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Transfer the onions to a bowl and put the skillet back on the stove, without wiping out the interior.
Heat the same pan over high heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and cook them, stirring frequently, over high heat until they begin to release their juices. Stir in the remaining minced garlic and continue to cook, until the mushrooms turn golden and give off a very savory aroma. (If at any time the pan seems too dry, causing the mushrooms to burn, add a bit more oil.) Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the cooked onions and the chives. Heat the vegetables together, just for a minute, then use a wooden spatula to scrape up any caramelized bits of onions and mushrooms from the bottom of the skillet. Transfer the sautéed mixture to the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a steel blade.
Place the cooked eggs on top of the sautéed mixture and add a good dose of salt and black pepper. Pulse the vegetables and eggs together until finely chopped, but not pureed (the mixture will look exactly like a batch of chopped chicken liver). Transfer the spread to a decorative bowl or crock and smooth the top. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top, then let the spread cool, covered with a doubled sheet of paper towels, at room temperature. Once cool, for best flavor, chill the spread for several hours (or up to two days), leaving the paper towels in place and wrapping over it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
Let the dish sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving with garlic toast, or your favorite store-bought crackers, warmed on a shallow baking sheet, in a preheated 350°F oven, for 5 to 10 minutes.
The spread can be fully assembled two days ahead and kept refrigerated, well covered. Leftovers stay good for a couple of days after that (about 5 days total).