Saturday, 14 September 2013

Get Comfortable

Funghi Porcini Rusticale con Puré di Patate
Rustic Oregano Porcini Mushrooms with Mashed Potato

Arguably the kings (or queens) of mushrooms, Porcini are so delicious and flavorful it is easy to see why they have such a reputation! I have a good "stash" of dried porcini at home, which I love to use for soup, risotto or pasta dishes and indeed the dried porcini have a really intense, almost superior flavor to fresh... but I did just use the word "almost" ;-)

Porcini are in season here right now... could it be the rain I wonder, that is bringing them out? In any case I made my way out to the market hall in the rain and got back home with a terrific bowl full of fresh and fabulous mushrooms to transform into a superb supper this evening... so at least that is one thing about this weather to not complain about! There were so many and the price was so reasonable... it would have been unreasonable to have resisted!

Rather than make a risotto or polenta dish, I decided to make something much more simple but equally delicious- some surprisingly simple looking but delicious mashed potato. Made using Heston Blumenthal's genius method, they were so flavorful that they were indeed, satisfying enough in combination with the mushrooms, to be treated as a meal in themselves... at least they were by me this evening! Sometimes it is these simple things that bring the most comfort when you are cold and hungry- and by the time I got back home this evening... I was!

The whole secret to making the mashed potatoes is to scrub the potatoes well, then peel them and boil the peel in some milk whilst the potatoes cook by themselves. I added a clove of garlic to the potatoes whilst they were boiling... Heston didn't do that ;-), but once the potatoes were done, I mashed them and added the hot milk in which the peel had been boiling. I poured this through a coffee filter, to make sure no remnants of dirt somehow made it through, added some butter (no- not masses of it!) and whisked it up nicely with a fork. I seasoned with a little salt, pepper and nutmeg- and voila! The milk had infused with so much rich potato flavor that the mash was truly fantastic! And SO simple!

I prepared the porcini by first sizzling up a little finely diced bacon, and then adding them, cut into slices, with some finely sliced Spring onion, a little finely chopped parsley and plenty of finely chopped oregano. And yes, it is important to slice the porcini- because as beautiful as they may look, they are often riddled with little critters that you do not want to be eating! If the mushroom is peppered with tiny holes- you can be sure there are lots of tiny little white friends already tucking-in to your supper! 

I added the mushrooms and a little crushed garlic again, salt, pepper, nutmeg- the classic flavors. Plenty of pepper in this case! A little splash of white wine as soon as the onion was beginning to brown and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice before serving... I would say no longer than 5-6 minutes total cooking time! Just taste them and you will see- you don't want to overcook them or they will turn to rubber and that would be a shame... because if you time it right, they will taste divine! And together with those mashed potatoes? let me just say- you will love them! Now go make some!!!

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