Saturday, 19 May 2007

Mushroom Night in Brandon

Posted by Andrew

Reading my sister's entry before this one has got me missing BBQ dinners quite a bit now. Hopefully I'll one day find a place to live where I'll have a backyard in which to place my own BBQ grill. In any case, she wasn't the only one busy with food at the start of the Victoria Day long weekend.

I'll admit that I'm a hobbit when it comes to mushrooms, so it was only a matter of time before I made myself a mushroom-themed dinner. As I mentioned yesterday I bought quite a bit of mushrooms, including the regular whites, crimini, oyster and portobella. I also still had some dried porcini (cepes) on hand, so that also got used tonight. As for the wine to use for cooking, I got my hands on a Henry of Pelham 2005 non-oaked Chardonnay.

For starters I made a simple yet wonderful mushroom and leek soup. I was impressed that I didn't need to add herbs to enhance the flavouring, although I'm sure that is still possible as a personal preference. Since I could only get large leeks at the time I only used one large leek for this recipe. I also used a mix of white, crimini and portobella mushrooms for the soup.

For my main course I decided to make a foray into the realm of cream. Although having mushrooms tossed in stir-fries or mixed in a tomato-sauced based pasta dish are nice, I realized it was past time that I further expanded my cooking horizons another notch. Try as I might I couldn't find a satisfactory mushroom cream sauce recipe to my liking, so I ended up winging it tonight. In hindsight I could've added just a bit more chicken powder to get the right saltiness to the dish, but other than that I think I did alright. The amount of sauce I created apparently was just enough to coat the ingredients rather than being overgenerous with some leftover sauce at the bottom of my bowl.

Chicken Mushroom Penne
  • 1/2 package (~500g) penne
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 6-8 white mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 100g oyster mushrooms, sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 portobello mushroom (~100g in size), sliced thinly into bite-sized pieces
  • ~100g dried porcini (cepes) mushrooms
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup (250ml) dry white wine
  • 1 cup (250ml) whipping cream or other heavy cream
  • ~1tbsp. corn starch
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • ~1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • ~1/2 tbsp. dried thyme
  • Salt (and chicken powder as option later)
  • Pepper

  1. Rehydrate porcini mushrooms in warm water for at least 15-20 minutes. Remove from water carefully to ensure you don't pick up any dirt, rinse the mushrooms under cold water and drain.
  2. Grill chicken breast until fully cooked and let rest. If using a double-sided grill, usually 5 min. should suffice. Cut the breast into thin slices prior to making the sauce.
  3. Chop and slice the shallot, garlic and mushrooms. Keep the fresh mushrooms together, separate from the shallot and garlic.
  4. Cook penne as per package instructions, usually for about 10-13 minutes.
  5. Over medium-high heat drizzle bottom of pot with olive oil and add butter. Add shallots and garlic, stirring quickly for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add all mushrooms to the pot and stir. Add a dribble of water to the pot as the mushrooms will absorb the oil and may stick to the pot. Add a pinch of salt as well to help the mushrooms sweat. Cover pot and let cook for ~4-5 minutes.
  7. Add wine, increase heat to high, and let boil until the alcohol evaporates.
  8. Once alcohol has evaporated, reduce heat to medium-high and add thyme and cream. Cover and let simmer for a few minutes.
  9. In a small bowl mix the corn starch with some water to prepare the thickener.
  10. Add salt or chicken powder and pepper to taste to the mushroom and cream mixture, stir evenly before adding the corn starch thickener. Stir to ensure even thickness of the sauce.
  11. Add the cooked penne and sliced chicken breast into the pot and mix until pasta is evenly coated and ingredients are evenly mixed. Remove from heat and serve.

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