Marinated Wild Mushrooms

Just like picking fruit and making preserves, gathering mushrooms and marinating them is a Russian classic. The weekend pastime harkens back to a time when communist citizens were free from the dictatorship of consumerism and social networks, and Muscovites could enjoy the simple comforts of their suburban datchas without spending hours in traffic jams and taking out half a dozen bank loans.

This recipe is loosely adapted from Anya von Bremzen’s Please to the Table. I like my marinated mushrooms with a relatively low level of acidity so I can still taste the mushrooms. The downside is that the brine probably isn’t suited for long-term preservation, so be sure to eat them all within a few days. Regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised to see me using wild mushrooms. Porcini work great, and can be coupled with other spring vegetables. Chanterelles are equally suitable, and it seems that they’re available year-round nowadays, most likely as imports from all corners of the world.

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Veal-Stuffed Lardo “Ravioli” with Chanterelles and Corn Purée

Here’s a recipe that perfectly illustrates Food Perestroika’s mission. Its Eastern European character is visible in the ingredients and the preparation: with the Mangalica lardo, the chanterelles, the corn, and the faux ravioli, we’re somewhere between Hungary and Ukraine. And yet these elements have been rearranged into a new, original dish.

The Mangalica breed of pig, the only kind with long, curly hair, is especially popular in Hungary. It is descended directly from wild boar, and is renowned for producing large and round animals well suited for making lard.  To form the ravioli, you will need to find either lardo that is wide enough, or very fatty bacon — I bought mine at Eataly.

Lazy Boris’ Corner:
If you replace the ground veal with more braised veal meat, the texture of the ravioli filling will be less interesting but still delicious.
In the corn purée (a recipe inspired by what we did at Danube), you can save an hour by substituting water for the corn stock.

Braised veal and stock
Yields about 6 servings plus some leftover meat

1 lb veal osso buco (shank)
black pepper, ground
olive oil
2 oz peeled carrot, large dice
2 oz peeled celery root, large dice
4 oz peeled onion, large dice
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 thyme sprigs
1 clove
4 oz red wine
14 oz water

  • Season the veal with salt and pepper. Sauté with olive oil in a small oven-safe pot over high heat until brown on all sides, then set aside.
  • In the same pot, cook the carrot, celery root, onion, and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add the thyme, clove, and red wine, and simmer until reduced by half. Add the water and the meat, bring back to a simmer, and cover with a lid slightly ajar. Cook in a 200 F oven for 6 hours, until very tender. Let cool.
  • Take out the veal from the liquid, remove the bones, and reserve the meat with the bone marrow.
  • Pass the stock through a chinois and reserve.

Corn purée
Yields about 6 servings

2 ears of corn
12 oz water
1/2 oz butter

  • Separate the kernels from the corn cobs, and reserve.
  • Cut the bare corn cobs in halves, and place into a small saucepan with the water. Cover with a lid, and boil over medium heat for one hour.
  • Pass the corn stock through a chinois and discard the cobs. At this point, you should have about 7.5 oz kernels and 5 oz stock — make sure you keep this ratio.
  • Place the kernels and the stock in the saucepan, cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a blender, add the butter and salt, and process until smooth. Pass the purée through a chinois, and reserve.

Yields about 6 servings

stock from braised veal
1 oz peeled scallion whites, thinly sliced
1/2 oz butter
3 oz ground veal
3 oz braised veal meat
paper-thin slices of Mangalica lardo or very fatty bacon (for amount, see below)
corn purée
5 oz cleaned chanterelles
1 tbsp extra-light olive oil
2 tbsp thinly sliced scallion greens

  • In a saucepan over high heat, reduce the stock from the braised veal to 2 oz, and reserve.
  • In a small saucepan, saute the scallion whites in the butter over medium heat until transluscent. Add the ground veal, and cook until barely done, stirring regularly. Shred the braised veal meat into small pieces (for the mathematicians, that’s about 0.25″), stir into the saucepan with the reduced stock, and cook over low heat until  the liquid has evaporated but the mixture still looks very moist.
  • Cut the lardo or bacon slices into 1.5″ x 2″ rectangles. This is what determines how many slices you need for the recipe — you need to be able to cut 6 such rectangles per serving. You can cut some pieces slightly longer and use them for the top layers.
  • Reheat the corn purée in a saucepan.
  • Sauté the chanterelles in the olive oil in a pan over high heat, season with salt, and cook until soft. Sprinkle with the scallion greens.
  • Assemble the “ravioli” on warm plates: place one rectangle of lardo on the plate, top with some veal mixture, and cover with another rectangle (slightly larger if possible). Repeat for additional ravioli. Finish plating with the corn purée and the mushrooms.

Guinea Hen Cutlets and Unlaid Eggs with Autumnal Vegetables

There are some rare and amazing products to be found at the Union Square Greenmarket, if you go there early enough and get a little bit lucky. While I was buying a guinea hen last week, I found, buried in a cooler, a bag full of livers, hearts and unlaid eggs:

Notice how large and yellow some of the livers are: this is pretty much natural guinea hen foie gras; you could almost eat them raw. The unlaid eggs are the other gems of the bundle: gently heated, they offer a burst of rich egg yolk flavor and texture when you pop them in your mouth.

I wanted to combine these outstanding rarities with the already delicious guinea hen meat available at the market, using as much of the bird as possible. The livers go very well with ground meat, hence the idea for a Russian cutlet, wrapped in the tender breast meat. The carcass is used to make a stock, reduced to a sauce together with the hearts. And to accompany the dish, I picked a mix of seasonal vegetables.

Guinea hen fabrication
Yields 4 servings and leftover ground meat

1 guinea hen

  • Separate the wings, legs and breast from the carcass.
  • With the skin still on, place each breast between sheets of plastic wrap, and pound to obtain two 4″ x 6″ rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half, wrap and refrigerate.
  • Bone the legs and wings, and pick the meat from the carcass. Process this meat with the skin in a meat grinder using a large die, cover and refrigerate. This will yield more than the amount needed for the cutlets. (You could use the extra ground meat to make more cutlets, without wrapping them in pounded breast meat. You might even be able to pound one of the boned thighs and use it to make another cutlet. You could also use the leftover meat for pelmeni or pirozhki.)
  • Use the bones and carcass to make stock.

Guinea hen cutlets
Yields 4 servings

9 oz ground guinea hen meat
3 oz fatty guinea hen livers, coarsely chopped
1 oz onion, sliced
1/2 oz butter
1 oz bread without crust, small dice
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp curing salt
garam masala, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp whisky
guinea hen breast, pounded into 4 rectangles

  • Place the ground meat and livers in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Sauté the onion in half of the butter over medium heat until golden brown, then let cool. Sauté the bread in the same pan with the rest of the butter until brown on all sides, and reserve.
  • In a bowl, mix the ground meat, livers, onion, salt, curing salt, garam masala, black pepper, and whisky. Process in a meat grinder using a small die, then mix with the bread.
  • Season the breast rectangles with salt, place the stuffing in the center, and roll — do not overstuff. Tightly wrap the cutlets in plastic film and refrigerate for at least a couple hours.

Guinea hen sauce
Yields 4 servings

8 guinea hen hearts, coarsely chopped
olive oil
3 cups guinea hen or chicken stock
1/2 oz butter

  • In a saucepan over high heat, saute the guinea hen hearts in olive oil until brown on all sides.
  • Add the stock, and reduce by three quarters. Strain, return to the saucepan, and reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.
  • Whisk in the butter and reserve.

Yields 4 servings

7 oz peeled fingerling potatoes, cut into 2-3 pieces each
7 oz peeled sunchokes, cut into pieces about the same size as the potato pieces
4 guinea hen cutlets
olive oil
4 oz guinea hen or chicken stock
6 oz chanterelles, cleaned
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
guinea hen sauce
16 unlaid guinea hen eggs

  • Place the potatoes in a pot of cold salted water, and cook over medium-high heat for about twenty minutes, until almost done. Shock in ice water and reserve.
  • Boil the sunchokes in the potato water for about 10 minutes, until tender. Shock in ice water and reserve.
  • Sauté the cutlets in a hot pan with olive oil until golden brown on all sides. Add the stock and cook in a 200 F oven for 30 minutes.
  • Sauté the potatoes and sunchokes in a hot pan with olive oil until golden brown on all sides. Add the chanterelles, season with salt, and cook until soft. Sprinkle with the chives and reserve.
  • Reheat the guinea hen sauce in a small saucepan. Add the unlaid eggs and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Remove from heat immediately.
  • Dress and serve, as pictured above.

Sweetbread and Chanterelle Tartlets

One of the things that first got me interested in exploring Eastern European cooking was the great potential for what high-end Hungarian cuisine could be. To help illustrate this, I adapted a recipe from Le Camélia in Bougival, France.

We start with a trio of Hungarian ingredients: wild mushrooms, offals and paprika. Of course one might object that chanterelles and sweetbreads are not that frequent in Hungarian cuisine, and I will answer that their scarcity doesn’t make them any less Hungarian. I know plenty of French people who never eat wild mushrooms or offals either!

Sweetbread and chanterelle tartlets
Yields 4 tartlets

8 oz sweetbreads (preferably from the nut)
8 oz milk
7 oz pâte brisée
5 oz cleaned small chanterelles (or larger chanterelles, halved or quartered)
1 1/2 oz butter
2 oz heavy cream
1 egg
ground pepper
ground nutmeg
Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tbsp chives, thinly chopped

  • Soak  the sweetbreads in the milk mixed with 3% salt and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  • Rinse and drain in a conical sieve. Place the sweetbreads in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then boil for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and reserve.
  • Roll the pâte brisée and cut four 4 1/2″ discs. Line four tartlet molds with greased parchment paper. Transfer the discs to the molds and prick with a fork. Cook in a 375 F oven for 15 minutes, then remove the tartlets from their molds and reserve.
  • Season the chanterelles with salt and sauté in a hot pan with 1/3 of the butter until soft.
  • Whisk the heavy cream and egg with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Place half of the chanterelles on the tartlets and fill to the rim with the custard mixture. Bake in a 350 F oven for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the membranes from the sweetbreads, then cut into 8 pieces. Liberally season with paprika, and sauté in a hot pan with the rest of the butter over medium-high heat. Remove from heat when the butter turns brown.
  • Arrange the sweetbreads and remaining chanterelles on the tartlets, then bake for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately.