I keep reading articles exhorting me to move meat to the status of a relish and to make vegetables the star of my meals. That’s not a bad solution for people who don’t want to give up meat altogether but are cognisant of the arguments against its production and consumption. While it’s unlikely I’ll ever become a vegetarian (bacon!), let alone a vegan (cheese!), I do try to keep a healthy balance.
Sometimes the meat or fish element will be just a handful of bacon lardons or anchovies to add depth and flavour. Sometimes our meals are entirely vegetarian and we grow quite a lot of what we eat. I’ve never tried cultivating mushrooms although I do remember my sister keeping a fungus-impregnated log under the stairs many years ago. As I recall, she didn’t get much of a crop.
We’re fortunate though in having a number of mushroom farms in Suffolk. I interviewed Patrick Hearne, boss of organic growers Capel Mushrooms, for a magazine article recently. He was telling me rather wistfully he remembered when mushrooms were a luxury item, but today they’re cheap enough that most of us chuck them in our supermarket trolleys without a second thought.
I love mushrooms and this recipe makes a fast, tasty and economical weekday supper. It’s equally good over rice, tagliatelle or just buttery mashed potatoes.
PS Apologies to anyone who is wondering about The Case Of The Vanishing Pavlova … the post was published in error today and will re-appear shortly.
1 tbsp oil
3-4 large shallots or two medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
500g mushrooms, sliced (I like chestnut mushrooms)
1 tbsp good-quality paprika
1/2 tspn caraway seeds
50 ml vegetable stock
150 ml sour cream (or double cream soured with 1 tspn lemon juice)
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Squeeze of lemon juice
Melt the butter with the oil in a deep frying pan and cook the shallots gently until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.
Put the mushrooms in the pan, increase the heat to medium and fry for five minutes, until they’ve given up some of their moisture. Stir in the paprika and caraway seeds and cook for a minute or two more.
Pour in the stock and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, then add the sour cream. Allow the mixture to thicken if necessary and season with salt and pepper.
Add a squeeze of lemon juice if it needs sharpening. Stir through the herbs, saving a few to garnish. A salad on the side and you’re good to go.