We eat a lot of mushrooms. Diverse in the flavours and textures they offer, wild mushrooms are a particular favourite and the cool, damp old growth forests of BC’s coast regions provide ideal growing conditions. Needless to say, I’m only just now realizing that three of the 12 recipes we chose for the 12 Days of Christmas series are mushroom based, so I hope you’re all fans of fungi too!
Today’s recipe keeps with the theme of comfort, as it’s been cold and rainy here lately (alas, winter in Vancouver). It comes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty, which has established quite a following for itself – and for good reason. The flavours throughout this book are bright and fresh, and if I could share only one take home message from it, it’s that the ability for fresh herbs to transform a dish should never be underestimated. The Plenty cookbook is vegetarian, but even if you’re a meat eater it is well worth adding to your collection, I promise. You can also check out Yotam’s other books, which offer even more inspiring dishes (including some meat-based) from this talented chef and his partner.
While we served this dish for dinner, it would make an excellent Christmas morning brunch. To maximize the flavours, you won’t want to skimp on steeping time for the dried porcinis, so while actual prep time is pretty quick you’ll want to plan ahead and give yourself a good hour to make this. Plenty of time to wrap some presents while the mushrooms are soaking (no pun intended – OK, maybe intended).
- ½ oz dried porcini mushrooms, about ½ cup
- 2 ½ cups boiling water
- 1.5 lb mixed wild mushrooms (if not available, look for cremini – a.k.a. baby bella)
- 4 medium slices sourdough bread, cut in 1 inch chunks
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
- 4 celery stalks, sliced
- ½ cup white wine (or sherry or dried vermouth)
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried
- 2 tbsp sour cream, heaped
- 2 tbsp Italian (flat leaf) parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
- 4 duck eggs, freshly poached*
- Vinegar for poaching
- Drizzle of truffle oil (or olive oil)
- Salt and pepper to taste
* We had some beautiful fresh chicken eggs in the fridge, so the ones pictured here are not actually duck – feel free to substitute if you have trouble sourcing.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place porcini mushrooms and boiling water in a large bowl and set-aside to steep for 30 minutes. Once steeped, strain and reserve the liquid and re-hydrated mushrooms separately.
Toss bread chunks with 1-2 tbsp olive oil, garlic, and a bit of salt and pepper. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes. If you have stale bread or odds and ends, feel free to use here – it’s a great way to make sure they don’t go to waste.
Meanwhile, brush any dirt from mushrooms and cut larger ones in halves or quarters. It’s ok to have some different sizes here.
Heat a little olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and leave a few minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing to get a nice brown colour. You may need to do this in batches, adding more oil as necessary (if you crowd the pan you won’t get the colour on the mushrooms).
Once all mushrooms have been set aside, heat a little more oil in the pan, and add in the celery, onion, carrot and wine. Allow to simmer for a minute or two before adding in the thyme and porcini soaking liquid (watch the bottom, as you may notice some grit –discard this). Bring mixture to a boil, and reduce heat, simmering for about 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by half. Reduce heat to low and stir in cooked mushrooms and re-hydrated porcinis. Season with salt and pepper
For the eggs, bring a shallow pan of water to a rapid boil. Add a splash of vinegar and slowly add one egg. Remove from heat and allow to rest for about 6 minutes, which should result in a perfectly soft poached egg.
Carefully remove egg and place in a dish of warm water. Repeat process with remaining three eggs.
When ready to assemble the dish, place eggs on a clean kitchen towel to absorb excess liquid; stir sour cream and three tbsp of the herbs into the mushroom mixture, saving one tbsp for garnish.
Divide bread chunks onto four plates. Pour over mushroom mixture and top with one egg each. Garnish with a drizzle of truffle oil, fresh cracked pepper, and leftover herbs.