Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mushrooms & Cranberries

This combination popped into my head as I peered into the fridge looking for ideas. It seemed a bit dodgy until I checked Google and discovered a vast universe of cranberry and mushroom recipes. Here’s mine.

Fresh cranberries are technically out of season so unless you have some left over from December buy frozen. Don’t use the dried fellows. This cooks in a jiffy and needs the berry juice. Use meaty mushrooms with a deep flavour.

I found some portabellini mushrooms - a novelty buy in Waitrose. They are smaller and more manageable than their sibling portabellos. Not long ago in the supermarket, I overheard a man calling them ‘cow pats’ to his kids. When I raised an eyebrow, he explained the logic: you find them in fields and they look like, well, you know... Fair enough.

Today’s toast is brioche. A calculated risk, but the theory was its sweetness would counteract the sharpness of the cranberries.

Here’s what you need: meaty field mushrooms, about the same weight of fresh cranberries (ie fewer cranberries than mushrooms), a sliver of garlic, a leaf of sage, a splash of port, a pinch of sugar, a little single cream, butter for frying, slices of brioche for toasting.

Finely chop the garlic and sage. Roughly chop the mushrooms. Heat the butter until foaming and add the garlic and sage, and then the mushrooms. As the mushrooms absorb the butter and the pan dries, add a splash of port and the cranberries. Let it bubble and reduce until all the cranberries have burst. Put your toast on.* Taste before adding a pinch of sugar to balance the acid cranberries. Add the cream to create a generous coating of sauce. Warm through, season and pile onto toasted brioche. Finish with chopped parsley.

*Don’t forget to turn your toaster down! Delicate brioche catches easily because of the sugar. I know because I burnt the first two slices. Doh.

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