Happy Halloween! Go Sox! And way to go Koji! My kids have a new favorite (non-Giant) player. What a Series…now back to business.
Most of the time when we blog about a dish it was a success. We make plenty of good, average or just “meh” dishes that don’t merit sharing, or at least need some serious tuning before we unleash them on the blogosphere. Over time, we’ve become a very self-critical bunch (the kids can’t help it, if they don’t like something it is very clear). This is a good thing, a little truthful feedback goes a long way, and we continue to improve as cooks. However, this means the bar for a dish to be “blogworthy” grows ever higher.
So while we are sharing this dish, we will say up front that it may or may not be worth the work (it depends on how much you like mushrooms). But we will share the recipe because one of the major components of the dish really did sing, and we will use it again. That part is porcini mushroom stock. With Thanksgiving coming up, we will use this stock for a number of dishes- and they will rock. Someone is bound to say that “this gravy goes to eleven”….;-)
And the porcini stock did help with this adaptation of a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe. Basically a deconstructed / modernized Stroganoff, this dish combines browned mushrooms, garlicky croutons and a sauce of porcini stock and sour cream. Topped with a poached or fried duck egg (we like to fry the eggs, your choice), you get a rich, flavorful dish with a range of textures. Good, but a bit of a fuss for what ends up in the bowl.
The fuss here is that you have to soak dried porcini for the stock, then make your own croutons (good but 15 minutes), brown the mushrooms in batches (better browning, but a pain in the a**), make and reduce the porcini stock, fry the eggs, finish the sauce and serve. A simple dish made not so simple- Ottolenghi does this to you sometimes. And sometimes it’s worth it and sometimes…..not so much. Such is life.
But we did get the Porcini stock, and that made everything worthwhile. All you do is soak 1/2 ounce of dried porcini in a cup of hot water for 30 minutes, strain the liquid (discard the porcini), add some water, mirepoix, thyme and a bit of seasoning. Simmer for about 20 minutes and then adjust seasoning. What you get is a balanced, sweet and flavorful stock with clear umami notes. This stuff beats any veggie stock and is better than most chicken or beef stock. And it takes a lot less time to make than most homemade stock.
So while we may not make this dish all that much, we will be using one of its major parts a bunch in the next few weeks. The porcini stock will be in our dressing for the turkey and in the gravy for both the beef and the bird (yes we go for beef, pork and turkey on Thanksgiving it feels more “democratic”). So even if the dish is just good, we will take the “great” ingredient and use it again…we will call this a win.
(Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty)
Notes Before You Start:
- You can use chicken eggs or duck eggs in the dish (Ottolenghi often uses duck or quail eggs to fancify dishes). The duck eggs are usually a bit bigger and maybe richer, but it will be hard to tell the difference.
- We fry the eggs because it’s easy. If you want to poach them, go ahead.
- This is a good vegetarian dish, but if you happen to crumble some bacon on top (as our boys do) you will add welcome crunch and saltiness…just a suggestion.
What You Get: A good, if somewhat high-effort winter dish. A great way to make porcini stock.
What You Need: No special equipment required.
How Long? About 45-60 minutes, most of it active. Ok, but a lot of work for a bowl of mushrooms.
(Serves 4 as a large side / small main dish)
- 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/4 pounds mixed mushrooms (wild and/or cultivated)
- 3/4 pound sourdough bread
- Olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
- 3 celery stalks, sliced
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 4 duck eggs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Soak the porcini in 1 1/2 cups of hot water for 30 minutes. Gently clean the fresh mushrooms, then cut the larger ones so you have a good selection of whole or large chunks. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove the crust from the sourdough, and cut the bread into roughly 1/2 inch cubes. Put these in a bowl, add two tablespoons of oil, two cloves of crushed garlic and a pinch of salt, and toss. Spread the croutons on an sheet pan and toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turning a few times, until they are golden brown.
- Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a heavy saucepan. Add some of the mushrooms, but do not crowd the pan. Leave mushrooms undisturbed for a minute or two so they don’t exude their juices, then, once lightly browned, turn them over for another minute. Remove from the pan and repeat in batches with the remaining mushrooms, adding a tablespoon of the oil every time.
- Once all the mushrooms are seared, add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and throw in the onion, carrot and celery. Sauté on medium heat for five minutes without browning. Add the wine and let it reduce for a minute. Strain the porcini, squeeze out the liquid and tip the soaking liquids into the pan (discard the porcini). Add enough water to bring up to about 2 1/2 cups.
- Add the thyme and a little salt and pepper, and simmer slowly for 20 minutes, or until you are left with just under a cup of stock. Strain, discard the vegetables and return the stock to the pan.
- When ready to serve, reheat the stock, add the mushrooms, sour cream and the herbs (reserve some to garnish), Mix gently and season to taste.
- Meanwhile, fry or poach) the eggs until the whites set but the yolks are still runny.
- As soon as the mushrooms are hot, place four croutons on each serving dish. Top with mushrooms, a warm egg, the remaining herbs, a drizzle of oil (if you like) and some black pepper. Serve.