Sunday, January 4, 2015

Recreating the Food From Italy, Episode 1

We had some amazing, amazing food in Italy and now I'm trying to recreate some of it as best I can.  Most things I enjoyed just require finding the right ingredients, some require looking up recipes, and some, like today's creation, are trial and error.

One of the best things we had was a mushroom dish served at a family restaurant in Montepulciano, a lovely small town in wine country.  The Italian name is I Funghi Porcini con Uovo in Camicia e fonduta di Pecorino al Tartuto Nero.  Translated that is Porcini Mushrooms with Poached Egg and Black Truffle Pecorino fondue. It was SO delicious. A rich mushroom truffle soup - almost a stew - with a poached egg. It was served in a parchment bag which was interesting but I'm not sure if it was baked in the bag or not. I have searched the Internet for a recipe and not found anything so I think maybe it was just a creation of the owner chef.

Today I did my best to recreate it. And I got pretty close.

First I soaked about an ounce of dried Porcini mushrooms in warm water for about 30 minutes. I gently washed the mushrooms first so I could use the resulting liquid later. I chopped and sautéed the Porcini mushrooms along with some chopped Shitaki and Cremini mushrooms in about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil that I'd added a few drops of truffle oil to. I salted and peppered the mushrooms to taste. The mushrooms covered the bottom of my 10" fry pan and I'd guess I had a little more than a cup when they were cooked. I set the mushrooms aside and used the pan to make the soup.

I suppose I could have made my own soup but I'm somewhat lazy. A friend of mine recommended Trader Joe's condensed cream of Portobello mushroom soup so I used that. The instructions call for an equal amount of liquid and I used some of the liquid from soaking the Porcini mushrooms to refill the box half way and then I filled the rest with white wine. I stirred that until it was incorporated and then I stirred in about 2 ounces of truffle cheese from Trader Joe's. This is because I didn't have any of the Pecorino cheese left that we'd brought home from Italy and Trader Joe's didn't have any. Next time I'll search out Pecorino. I did add a little bit of Parmesan to get the saltiness.

While the cheese and soup melded, I poached an egg. I tried a new process I'd read about that calls for putting the egg in 1/3 C of vinegar for 5 minutes before poaching. That is supposed to make the white stick closer to the egg and I do think it helped. Once the egg was poached, I ladled the soup into my bowl and added my egg. I have enough of the soup left to make another dish tomorrow - or later today.

It was delicious. I don't think it was as rich as the soup we had in Italy and I think using Pecorino will help, as well as perhaps adding a bit of heavy cream. But my version was excellent and I'll be making it again.