Recently we’ve started growing our own mushrooms. It’s not as complicated as it sounds; we took the lazy route and bought the kits and grew them on old coffee grounds. As long as you remember to water them, three weeks after you crack the pack open you’ll have your first harvest of organic, homegrown mushrooms. Much cheaper than you’ll ever get in the shops and so much fresher. But, of course they all enthusiastically appear at once so you’ve got to be able to deal with the inevitable glut you’ll have on your hands. (Especially if you follow my family’s super size philosophy and have three packs on the go at once.)
I’m not sure I know of a better way to deal with a mushroom glut than mushrooms duxelles, that classic French dish of mushrooms cooked down with shallots. Prepared this way they’ll taste more like a pâté so completely bypassing the risk of slimy mushrooms and making them much more palatable to even the most ardent mushroom hater. They’ll keep like this for five days or so covered in the fridge but also freeze really well to see you through a lot of culinary situations. Spread on toast and topped with a poached egg for a decadent but veggie breakfast, used as a stuffing for chicken breasts before wrapping them in pancetta and roasting or for a roasting joint or even as an easy ravioli filling; however you look at it duxelles is a handy trick to have up your sleeve. Although, to be fair you do need the patience of a saint to dice all the mushrooms. Or a food processor.
Blessed as I am with said food processor (and obviously the patience of a saint as well of course) this week, to coincide with the arrival of my latest half pig, I chose to use my duxelles to make a variation on the traditional beef wellington; pork wellington. A far cheaper but just as delicious option in my opinion. Now it is possible to make a wellington by just wrapping your browned fillet in the mushroom spread pastry, but should you have the time spare, try it the traditional way wrapped in the pâté spread pancake first; you won’t regret it. Delicious hot or at room temperature, served up with a red wine reduction and a fresh salad for dinner, it’s also a great little treat to have chilling in the fridge; sliced up as you see fit for packed lunches or picnics or just a cold tea, your choice. However I did say this was mushroom duxelles two ways, and it is after all Meat free Monday so don’t worry; I didn’t just leave it there. With mushroom duxelles literally coming out of our ears (we did have an awful lot of mushrooms), I also thought I’d play around with a vegetarian option loosely based on the wellington idea. I am happy to report that soft boiled quail’s eggs wrapped in squares of duxelles filled pastry makes an equally satisfying supper. I’ll have to get back to you on whether they make the transition to packed lunch/ picnic option; ours were all devoured almost instantaneously. Need I say more?
Mushroom Duxelles Recipe
Makes enough for both options, but is easily halved:
800g mushrooms chopped finely
1 red chilli
3 cloves of garlic
100 ml white wine
Two tbsps fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Crush your garlic and finely dice the shallots and chilli.
Start to soften both the shallots over a low heat in a good splash of olive oil with a pinch of sea salt. After ten minutes or add the garlic and chilli and let them soften for another couple of minutes.
Pour in the wine and turn the heat right up so it reduces right down.
Add the mushrooms with the thyme and cook them over a medium heat. Cook them for about ten minutes but just make sure that you cook off any juice that the mushrooms give off; the finished product should be quite dry.
For the Pork Wellington:
I pork fillet (around 400g)
2 crepe style pancakes (make your batter up and use the rest for dessert)
60g pâté (I use ardennes but the choice is yours. I just wouldn’t use mushroom for obvious reasons)
2 sheets of ready made puff pastry. Yes ready made. Life is too short to be making puff pastry.
half the above quantity of duxelles (you may not need it all)
1 egg, beaten together with a splash of milk
salt and pepper
To put together the wellington start off by browning your well seasoned pork fillet all over, then let it cool.
Spread a thin layer of pâté over the pancakes then wrap the fillet with them.
Spread a thin layer of duxelles over the puff pastry sheet, then put the wrapped fillet on top and fold the second pastry sheet over it. Dampen the edges to seal and crimp them well. Trim off any excess pastry.
Decorate it as you see fit. The pigs face that I chose is not mandatory; leaves and berries look good to too and possibly not quite so gloaty. Brush with beaten egg, loosened with a splash of milk several times to make sure you get that really nice gloss in the oven.
Bake the wrapped fillet on a lined baking sheet for around 25-30 minutes then allow to cool slightly before slicing.
For the Quail’s Eggs Parcels:
12 quail’s eggs
2 sheets ready made puff pastry
half the above quantity of duxelles (again you may not need it all)
1 egg beaten together with a splash of milk
Bring a pan of water with a drop of vinegar in it to the boil.
Boil the quail’s eggs for 2.5 minutes then remove from the water and refresh in cold water until they are cool enough to handle.
Peel the eggs and leave them to one side.
Spread out the pastry sheets and cut them both into four.
Put a good spoonful of duxelles onto the first four pieces of pastry, then top with 3 quail’s eggs. Cover with the remaining pastry pieces, dampen the edges and seal, crimping well.
Bake on a lined baking sheet in a preheated oven (180 deg. C) for 15 minutes or until the parcels turn golden brown.