There’s 1 thing I know I can rely on every year that will assuredly can lift my spirits in wet weather: mushroom hunting season! In France, where I live, cool rains bring out masses of improbable amateurs, young and old alike, who trudge deep into the woods in search of not-always-so-buried treasures. The grumpy old police captain that hangs around my favorite local brasserie turned up another week sporting an ear-to-ear smile as he presented multiple wicker baskets filled to the brim with cèpes he’d snagged earlier that morning. My polite inquiry as to where he’d been out picking, immediately saw the broad smile vanish from his lips as he craftily went about changing the subject.
This popular autumn pastime is not restricted only to professionals: Village pharmacists are required by law to be effective at identifying mushroom varieties, making it a hell of a lot easier to feel confident cooking up everything you forage. Still, it’s extremely important that you learn how to correctly identify mushrooms before you venture out in search of dinner. If you are a first-timer, be certain to go with someone who’s experienced and just eat fungi you have the ability to identify 100 percent favorably. An even easier option, for those not up to this job, is to go to the neighborhood market to get them straight from an experienced forager who has done all of the learning (and work) for you.
My version of the classic French recipe for oeufs cocotte is the best vehicle for any wild mushrooms you have the ability to get your hands on. Not to be confused for shirred eggs, these infants are cooked in a bain marie when swimming in rich and delicious freshwater blossom cream baths. Be certain that you serve alongside copious quantities of freshly toast crusty bread for dipping. This recipe can easily be developed to match just about anything savoury you happen to have available, but of course, I prefer wild mushrooms. After all, it’s the season!
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
2 cups loosely packed fresh italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon coarse grey sea salt
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested
3 cups washed and loosely packed chanterelles (approximately 25-30 whole mushrooms of varying sizes). A mixture of cepes, oyster mushrooms, or other wild mushrooms of choice could substituted
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 nutmeg, freshly grated
2 bay leaves
4 medium-sized eggs
4 heaping Tbsp Comté cheese, grated
1 cup cooked wheat berries, wild rice, quinoa or other grain of choice
4 ceramic ramekins, or heatproof glass cups
To produce the pistou, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Dip from the mint, basil and parsley leaves and give a good stir. Immediately strain and move the blanched leaves into a small bowl of ice water. Allow to cool.
In a food processor, process the salt, garlic and olive oil.
Strain the herbs from the ice bath and gently squeeze to remove any excess water. Add the herbs into the food processor and process until blended and relatively smooth, although cautious to not over blend. Taste and adjust salt or olive oil as necessary.
Next, begin to wash the mushrooms using a paring knife to trim away any nasty bits round the borders (optional: lightly run the blade edge along the stem trimming the surface as you work around it, hardly scratching off each stem’s surface). Trim all the stalks by a few millimeters. Tear each chanterelle in half (or in threes based on the size). Check the stalks for clean and bugs by trimming if necessary.
Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat. Working in batches, add half of the olive oil and cook half of the mushrooms until they begin to brown (about five minutes). Add 1 tablespoon of butter and allow to melt and brown around the mushrooms. Remove cooked mushrooms from the pan and season with black pepper. Proceed by cooking the next batch of mushrooms with the exact same pan. Set aside.
Heat cream to a boil over moderate heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, remove bay leaves and set aside until ready to assemble.
Bring a large shallow pot of water to a simmer. The quantity of water used will be dependent on the size of the ramekins you’re using. To get a bain marie, the water must grow up just under the border each ramekin. I tend to err towards not overfilling the pot because if needed, you can always add more hot water to make up the difference.
Prepare the oeufs cocotte by dividing the wheat berries evenly between each ramekin. Layer with grated Comté, followed with the mushrooms, again, dividing each equally among the dishes. Add a generous spoonful of pistou to each ramekin and then spoon the lotion evenly across every dish. Gently crack an egg into each ramekin.
Carefully lower the ramekins to the bain marie. Adjust hot water as required. Cook in a slow simmer for 10-15 minutes. Egg whites should be put, while the yolks should still be runny. Carefully remove each ramekin in the bain marie and serve immediately — the eggs will end up overcooked if left to sit for a long time.
Serve with toasted bread for dipping, in addition to extra pesto for people who simply just can not get enough herby, garlicky goodness.
Courtesy: The Globe And Mail