On a rare occasion of me sitting down in front of the TV recently, I watched Laura of French Chef At Home cook a vegetarian meal. Yesterday I was out with friends and we saw a big sack of fresh local shiitake mushrooms (make sure you get local shiitake because the ones from China can smell like sweat by the time they get here) and oyster mushrooms--the same mushrooms that Laura used for the mushroom pie, which had no lamb by the way so technically it isn't a shepherd's pie.
The resulting pie I baked, based on hurriedly scribbled ingredients (these days it isn't cool to give a list of ingredients on food programs *sigh*), was a hit. The mushrooms were meaty and delicious and the red wine gave a wonderful aroma and taste to the dish. I love this pie and although Wey prefers pies with meat in them, he still ate half the pie. I underestimated the amount of mushrooms needed so the pie was more mash than mushrooms but that was okay. I think the pie had a bit more gravy than Laura's but as the pie cooled, the gravy disappeared. We had Hungarian bratwursts and a leaf salad with the pie and it was good enough for a simple Thursday night dinner although by 11 pm I was hungry again. But I am determined to loose those 2 kgs by the end of November because the loss will make way for more food to be eaten in December! I know some people diet for a day or two for that special dinner or pair of skirt, but for me it's to make way for more food. Disgusting.
As I sat down to write this post, I googled for the recipe and found it listed as 'Mushroom Parmentier'. My recipe below is not far from the original except for the amount of mushrooms and I used cheddar instead of gruyere cheese. As usual I cut steps whenever I could; that's my bad habit. I think if I were to tweak this recipe, I'd add some cubed beef steak to it but then again it really is very good as it is. I'm sold on this Laura person; her recipes are simple to follow and delicious. If only she doesn't have that fun but irritating French cafe music on all the time.
Mushroom Shepherd's Pie
500g mix of fresh shiitake & oyster mushrooms
1/2 red onion (or white since red is expensive), chopped
3 T butter
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 t fresh or dried thyme (fresh is better)
salt & pepper to taste
1 T plain flour
1 T fresh parsley (I used Italian flat leaf), chopped
4 large potatoes, skinned n cut into cubes
2 T butter
5-6 fresh dairy cream (or milk)
1/2 t salt & some freshly ground pepper
50 g mature cheddar, grated
--boil the potatoes until tender. Drain n mash with all the ingredients using a potato masher or ricer. Adjust the amount of cream/milk to make the mash the consistency to your liking.
Prep: I do wash my mushrooms (top only, don't wash the underside) despite all the instructions telling me not to, and gently squeeze out the water. Trim off the stalks & tear the oyster mushrooms into smaller pieces and cut the shiitake into 1 cm thick slices.
Oven at 250 C.
1. Put 2 T butter into a frying pan, add 2 olive oil and fry the onions until transparent and soft. Add the mushrooms and garlic, fry for 1 minute. Add the red wine and fry until the wine is nearly gone in amount and fragrant (until it doesn't smell as strong as when it was added).
2. Add the stock, thyme, salt & pepper and let it cook for about 1 minute, stirring well.
3. Knead 1 T butter with 1 T flour ('beurre manie'--what a clever way to thicken the gravy without ending up with lumps of flour!) and add to the mushrooms, stirring to dissolve the butter and flour. The sauce will thicken beautifully. Add the parsley, stir through and spoon the mixture into a gratin dish.
4. Spoon the mash over the mushrooms, level and pull a fork over to make a lattice pattern and bake at 250 C for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.