By the way, do you know that Paris, crimini and Portobello mushrooms are all of the same variety and that they only differ in age? Paris mushrooms are younger and when they get older they turn into the brown mushrooms known as crimini. Finally, at a more mature stage, they are known as Portobello.
I was therefore excited about the first mushrooms festival in Lisbon, organized by Chapitô in late October. In particular, I had the expectation of finding some wild varieties like these chanterelles, small golden jewels with a firm and meaty texture. I also bought yellow trumpets and combined them in the richest and most luscious mushroom ragoût you can imagine.
October presented us with sunny days and on Saturday morning Lisbon was full of people on the streets enjoying the last warm days of the year. We also took the opportunity of going to the mushrooms festival to lunch quietly in Chapitô à Mesa, a restaurant I didn’t know. We chose an appetizer from the special menu dedicated to mushrooms, lion’s mane in tempura with garlic and herbs mayonnaise, and for main course I chose a sirloin sandwich with “bolo do caco”, which is a flat, circular bread from the Madeira islands, shaped like a cake (“bolo” is the Portuguese word for cake), traditionally cooked on a “caco”, a flat basalt stone slab. Unfortunately, the appetizer was a disappointment. The word “tempura” evokes in me the image of a light and crispy batter, but this one in particular was oily and heavy. In contrast, the sirloin sandwich was the best I’ve had in life. The meat was tender like butter and was prepared on the spot and the bread, slightly toasted and spread with garlic butter, was light. It came accompanied with delicious fries, in this case well fried and not greasy at all. Add the spectacular view over the Lisbon rooftops and the Tagus, as well as the friendliness of the employees, and I think it’s a place well worth returning to.
The mushroom ragoût is simple to make. Chanterelles and trumpets kept the texture and didn’t lose too much fluids, as mushrooms usually do. For a truly vegetarian dish, replace the meat broth for a vegetable one and ignore, of course, the bacon and Worcestershire sauce, which has anchovies. Over the mushroom ragout I laid a puff pastry coat, like in a pie, which adds texture and comfort with its deep golden color. I served with a simple mashed potatoes, to involve in the luscious sauce of the mushroom ragoût.
Wild mushroom ragoût with puff pastry crust
Chanterelles, with their firm and meaty texture, and the rich stout sauce make this a truly luscious ragoût. Puff pastry adds texture and comfort with its intense golden color. For a truly vegetarian dish, use vegetable broth and skip the bacon and Worcestershire sauce.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 150g bacon, finely diced
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely sliced
- 1 small leek (white part only), finely sliced
- 400g wild mushrooms (I used chanterelles and trompets)
- 1 rosemary stalk
- 250ml beef stock
- 200ml stout beer
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 pinch ground nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground blak pepper, to taste
- 1 puff pastry sheet
- 1 small egg
- In a pan, melt the butter and saute the bacon for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden and crispy. Add the onion and saute another 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened and opaque. Also add garlic, carrot and leek and cook for 4 minutes, again stirring frequently. Finally, add the whole mushrooms and rosemary and cook another 3 minutes.
- Add the stock, beer, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, flour and season with nutmeg, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook over low heat with the pan uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the contents don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. The sauce will thicken and should be rich and juicy in the end.
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the mushroom ragoût on a baking tray or other oven safe container. Cover with the puff pastry, trimming the excess or wrapping it in order to create a border. Brush with beaten egg and make a small hole at the top. Cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the puf pastry is crisp and golden. Note: If you see that the crust begins to gain color too quickly, cover with aluminum foil to prevent burning.
- Serve immediately with mashed potatoes and salad.
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