If I didn’t know any better, this could be considered quite a lazy vegetarian dish, lots of dairy, which on an animal cruelty view can often be little better than eating meat, and a big pile of wild mushrooms is hardly the most inventive of combinations. But actually I started the recipe with the idea of using walnuts and chestnuts and built from there.
The mushrooms aren’t a poor meat substitute because I’ve never understood why you would want to use an ingredient to bring attention to what a dish doesn’t have rather than accentuate what it does have, in this case the toasted walnuts – I’ve also explored the combination before but I wanted to take advantage of the different textures this time. And even the idea that a meal is missing something without meat is itself erroneous: there is so much variety amongst vegetables and they deserve to be given a chance to shine on their own.
I managed to get a great selection of various mushrooms in Fallon & Byrne, including porcinis, girolles and a crazy looking specimen I think is called lion’s mane. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture but the whole fruiting body was covered in a shaggy coating and when cooked it had the texture of chicken. I really only bought it because of its strange appearance but I was pleasantly surprised at how good it tasted.
The observant amongst you may also have noticed that there are some hazelnuts in the picture below: unlike the chestnuts, I didn’t buy my walnuts in Fallon & Byrne and I had to throw the majority out because they were rotten. It’s definitely worth paying a premium for whole nuts because it’s such a false economy if you get them on the cheap only to end up discarding over fifty per cent.
For the pumpkin puree
200g pumpkin, chopped in 2.5cm pieces
Grape seed oil
For the chestnut puree
For the honey roasted parsnips
2 parsnips, cored and chopped into 4cm pieces
Grape seed oil
For the roasted shallot
2 shallots, peeled
Grape seed oil
For the cream & thyme sauce
75ml white wine
200ml double cream
For the brown butter powder
5g tapioca maltodextrin
For the wild mushrooms
200g wild mushrooms
1ml mushroom ketchup
10ml grape seed oil
2.5g black pepper
For the garnish
6 walnuts, toasted and chopped
2 sorrel flowers
10 sorrel leavers
- For the pumpkin puree, preheat the oven to 210°C.
- Place the pumpkin cubes in a baking tray and coat lightly with the grape seed oil.
- Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until starting to brown and caramelise.
- When done, remove any skin and add the flesh to a blender.
- Pour in some water to help the mixture blend as it will be quite dry.
- Add the butter and puree until completely smooth. Season and reserve.
- For the chestnut puree, use a knife to cut an X into the base of the chestnuts so they don’t explode.
- Place in the oven used for the pumpkin and roast for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and peel the nuts.
- Add to a blender along with the milk, sugar and butter.
- Puree until completely smooth adding more milk if too thick. Season and reserve.
- For the honey roasted parsnips, reduce the heat of the oven to 190°C.
- Place the parsnips in a backing tray and coat lightly with the grape seed oil.
- Roast for around 25 minutes until golden.
- Remove from the oven and brush the parsnips with the honey.
- Return to the oven and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the honey has caramelised. Reserve and keep warm.
- For the roasted shallots, coat the shallots in oil and roast in the oven used for the parsnips for 20-25 minutes until browned. Reserve and keep warm.
- For the cream and thyme sauce, bring the white wine to the boil over a medium/high heat.
- Add the thyme and cook until the liquid has nearly evaporated.
- Pour in the cream and cook until reduced by two thirds (it should have the consistency of hollandaise). Season and reserve.
- For the brown butter powder, heat the butter over a medium heat until the milk solids have turned a nutty brown colour.
- Pour the melted butter into a bowl and add the tapioca maltodextrin.
- Whisk the mixture until all the oil has been incorporated and you are left with a fine powder, around 2-3 minutes.
- Place in an air tight container and reserve.
- For the wild mushrooms, place a large pan over a high heat and add the mushrooms and enough water to stop them catching and burning.
- Add some salt and the mushroom ketchup.
- Cover the pan with a lid and cook the mushrooms down until they’ve collapsed a bit and released their moisture, around 5-6 minutes.
- Strain the mushrooms using into a sieve and squeeze out as much water from them as you can. Reserve the liquid.
- Wipe the pan clean and return to the high heat and add some grape seed oil.
- Add the mushrooms (in batches if necessary) and fry for a couple of minutes until golden brown.
- Deglaze the pan with the reserved mushroom water and cook until the liquid has evaporated.
- Stir in the butter and black pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and reserve.
- To plate, place the mushrooms and a roasted shallot in a pile in the centre of the plate; lay some of the parsnips against the mushrooms; sprinkle over the walnuts; dot some pumpkin puree around the mushrooms; spoon three blobs of the chestnut around the mushrooms and drag your spoon through them; dribble the cream sauce over the mushrooms; sprinkle over the brown butter powder; garnish with a sorrel flower and some sorrel leaves.