I don’t get mushroom haters. In fact, they really annoy me. How can you eliminate an entire ingredient from your diet regardless of how it is prepared? It just doesn’t make sense.
Last week, I took full advantage of a “Jess night” to cook up the best mushroom recipe I could find while my mushroom-hating other half was hanging out with the boys. I was inspired by a dish my friend ordered the night before at Chez Victoire, a relatively new bistro on Mont-Royal, and of which I was terribly jealous. The crab cakes I ordered paled in comparison to the rich, meaty and comforting mushroom ragout she was enjoying.
My search for the perfect mushroom dish inevitably led me to Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty (see my previous Ottolenghi trials here and here). The way this London-based chef deals with veggies is mind-blowing. It seems he can turn the simplest, most boring veg into an elegant main course.
This dish came quite close to the Chez Victoire version and even features a poached egg, which offers extra richness. I’m sure that if I reduced the broth a little more and perfected my egg-poaching technique, it would have been heaven. Nonetheless, it rocked the house.
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty
Makes 4 portions
½ oz (1 package) dried porcini mushrooms
2 ½ cups of water
1 ¼ lbs (about 4 packages) mixed fresh mushrooms of your choice
Small sourdough or other crusty bread
6 or 7 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
½ cup white wine
3 thyme springs
4 eggs (recipe calls for duck eggs but I used regular)
Vinegar for poaching
½ cup sour cream
2 tbsp chopped tarragon
2 tbsp chopped parsley
Olive oil (recipe calls for truffle oil)
Prep mushrooms and make croutons
Put the dried porcini in 1 cup of water and soak for about 30 minutes. Clean fresh mushrooms and cut the bigger ones into large chunks. Preheat oven to 400 °F.
Cut bread into 1 inch cubes and toss with 2 tbsp of olive oil, garlic and salt. Spread on baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until brown.
Brown the shrooms
Heat olive oil in large heavy pan and brown mushrooms (about 1-2 minutes) in batches, adding oil as needed. Avoid crowding the pan and resist the urge to stir. Turn them over once – that’s it. Reserve mushrooms in a bowl.
Make a broth
Add a splash more oil to the pan and throw in onion, carrot and celery. Sauté 5 minutes without browning and add the wine. Remove porcini from water, squeeze out extra liquid and reserve. Add the soaking liquid to the pan with remaining ½ cup of water, thyme and salt. Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes or until there is about ½ cup of liquid left. Strain, discard veggies, return to the pan and set aside.
Poach your eggs
Fill a saucepan with enough water to cover eggs, add a splash of vinegar and bring to a rapid boil. Break one egg into shallow bowl and gently pour into boiling water. Immediately remove from heat and set aside. After 4 minutes, the egg should be perfect. Lift it out of the pan and place in bowl of warm water. Do over with all your eggs. Dry on paper towel when they are all done.
Finish the sauce and assemble the dish
Heat up the stock and add all of the mushrooms (don’t forget the porcini), sour cream, most of the herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
Place a few croutons in each bowl, top with mushroom ragout and poached egg. Add a little more herbs, black pepper and drizzle of oil to garnish.