Thursday, 5 December 2013

Stuffed Mushroom

I think it was Shirley Conran who claimed life was too short to stuff a mushroom, how sad. Personally I think mushrooms make the perfect vessels for stuffing with all sorts of delicious things; in this case butternut squash. I have been revamping my spice cupboard and decided it would be good to use the fragrant bite of pink peppercorns in some way. The other spice that was calling out was the caraway with it's hints of dill and cumin. What follows is a really delicious version of a stuffed mushroom, but as I often say, you can, as I do, read this recipe and drive off in your own direction. Recipes should inspire adaptation and variation, but before you do that do try this recipe out as written, I promise you it will deliver. I would propose life is too precious not to make time to stuff a few mushrooms, poor Shirley.

For this recipe you will need;
4 large portobello mushrooms
1 medium sized onion
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
500g of butternut squash
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of creme fraiche
1 teaspoon of pink peppercorns
1 scant teaspoon of caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
Salt or Marigold bouillon powder
1 tablespoon of Noilly Prat vermouth
20g of parmesan cheese
1 thick slice of bread

Begin by preparing all the vegetables. Dice the onion and 450g of the squash. Using a peeler take 50g of the squash off in thin parings before dicing the remainder. Chop the garlic. Grind the pink peppercorns and caraway seeds in a pestle and mortar. Grate the parmesan and the bread to form crumbs.
In a heavy bottomed pan with a lid, gently fry the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of oil and the butter on a low heat. Putting the lid on will help the mushrooms wilt and loose their resilience. Remove the mushrooms and set aside. Place the second tablespoon of oil in the pan and gently fry the spices for 2 minutes, add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion becomes translucent. Add the diced squash and the vermouth and cook gently for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. When the squash is tender add the salt or bouillon powder if using and the creme fraiche and replace the lid. After a few minutes stir the mixture through and adjust the seasoning with a little more salt or bouillon powder to taste.
Share the mix between the 4 mushrooms and top with the parmesan breadcrumb mixture. Bake in a hot oven. 200C for 15 minutes. While the mushrooms are baking, deep fry the thin parings of squash to make crisps. Drain the crisps on absorbent kitchen paper. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and pile the crisps on top of the baked mushroom. Serve with a salad or small boiled potatoes if like me you're feeling hungry. Plan on one mushroom per person.

If you allow the mix to cook long enough to just stick slightly to the bottom of the pan before switching off the heat and adding the creme fraiche, after replacing the lid and leaving for a few minutes, the moisture will have loosened the mix and incorporated the extra flavour that the caramelized vegetables will have created. You just need to be careful to not let the vegetables caramelize in this way for too long, no amount of creme fraiche will mask a burnt taste.