I’m not going to pretend that this is healthy food. But it is scrumptious, heart-warming and perfect for these damp, foggy hiatus days between Christmas & New Year, when the world seems to be moving a little more slowly. It sprang to mind as we had lots of cream in the fridge from our cancelled Boxing Day lunch which needed using up.
I’m not going to give specific measurements, just a method. It’s hard to be too generous when cooking mushrooms, as they do cook down so much. As a rough guide, for four of us I used four large flat mushrooms and a pound/500gm of chestnut, as I like the mixture of textures. I had planned on oyster mushrooms too, but they were a bit squishy. (If using oysters, add right at the end of the mushroom cooking time, just before the cream.)
Chop mushrooms into thick slices and then cut across to make cubes. Add butter and olive oil to the pan, and when bubbling, add a finely diced clove of garlic & medium shallot (but a small onion would do just as well). Keep the heat low and cook (sweat) the onion/shallot/garlic till translucent.
Then add a good slug of Madeira – this is a bit rarefied (I’m cooking in my mother’s seriously equipped kitchen), sherry will do just as well, and white wine works too, turn the heat to medium and bubble it down for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol.
Tip in the mushrooms, keep the heat on medium, and cook for around 5 minutes until they are softened, and giving off lots of juices.
Then add 2-3 loaded tablespoons of double (heavy) cream, plenty of salt (Maldon, please) & black pepper, and stir around. If the garden wasn’t under a thick layer of ice, I think I would add some tarragon leaves to the pan. Thyme or chervil might be good too.
Let bubble for a few minutes whilst you slice enough bread for toast. We used sourdough which is quite flat, so had a big slice chopped in half each. Bung in toaster or under the grill/broiler, and then rinse a bag of spinach, throw it in a pan with the lid on, (no extra water) and remove once wilted into a colander and press out any extra water.
Check the seasoning of the mushrooms. My palate is screwed after festive over-indulgence & I added more salt at this point. I’d also let the cream bubble too much and the sauce was a bit goopy so I mixed in a couple of tablespoons of hot water to thin it out.
Put toast on plates, divide the spinach over the toast and then heap over mushrooms and cream. Add a generous twist of black pepper. Serve quickly before the toast gets soggy. Eat. (Nothing more vile than tepid creamy sauce + soggy toast.)
Butter & olive oil (not Virgin, wasted on cooking)
1 x shallot or small onion
1 x clove garlic (I think I might use 2 next time)
Lots of mushrooms
Bag of washed spinach
Good bread cut in thick slices & toasted – sourdough is excellent. NOT Sliced/Wonderbread etc.
Optional – Madeira/sherry/white wine
Small pot double (heavy) cream (single works too in a pinch, but takes longer to cook)
Maldon salt & black pepper in a grinder
Fresh herbs if you have them, never ever dried ones. Try tarragon, chervil or thyme.