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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chicken with Porcini Mushroom

For me, when someone says porcini, I get a tingling in my fingers. These are, in my humble opinion, the best mushrooms you can get or forage (let’s leave the wonderful truffles out of this, shall we? They might be mushrooms as a species, but you can’t make a stew out of them). And, for me, porcini have a different background, as they were introduced to me by the one of the most incredible people in the world, meaning my grandmother. She used to pick them herself in the forest or buy them from other foragers and I loved every tiny bit of that mushroom, any way she would cook it for me: in a stew, with different meats, grilled, boiled, didn’t matter. She was also very picky with her mushrooms: she only used young, fresh porcini, that had no sign of disease or bruising and she didn’t hesitate to throw any mushroom that wasn’t up to some very high standard. Oh, and another thing, she only eats 2 kind of mushrooms: porcini and honey fungus. Anything else, she threw away…  Honestly, nothing else. Bit weird, but she still is amazing and a great inspiration for me. 

So, when I went to visit her a couple of weeks ago, she gave me half a kilo of porcini that she pre-boiled and froze for me. What can I say, I AM her favorite grandson. So, with the mushrooms and my grandmother in mind, I decided to make a dish using the beautiful porcini. Now, chicken wasn’t a choice because I just love it, this recipe works great with some game poultry, quail or pheasant, but chicken breast is plain enough to absorb any spices you throw at it and it doesn’t outshine the porcini, so it’s a viable solution for this dish.

So, 500 grams of boiled porcini means that you can use about 300 grams of fresh ones or about 75-100 grams of dried mushrooms. When using the pre-boiled ones the advantage is that you don’t  have to cook it very long, but with the fresh ones, you get a bit more flavor. 

The meat: 1 free-range (special thanks have to go to my mother for this one) chicken breast, deboned. 

2 tbs. of chopped fresh sage, 
a red onion, diced, 
3-4 crushed garlic cloves, 
a spicy chili, 
ground fennel seeds and cloves, 
2 bay leaves, 
Greek yoghurt, 
olive oil, 
salt and pepper, 
some rose wine (go Provence here, the Bordeaux style ones can prove to be a bit too strong for this kind of meat. If using game poultry, replace with red) 
(optional) some turmeric. 

Start of by heating up 3 tbs of olive oil in a heavy base pan, add the sage and cook it for 30 seconds, enough to create a nice and crispy outcome. Add in the chicken, cut however you want, and cook it for 5 minutes, coating it constantly with the sage. Next add the onion, garlic and chili and cook for another 3-4 minutes, after which add the boiled mushrooms, also diced. Add in the spices. Mix everything together and cook for 2 minutes, the add about 1 glass of wine. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce to a medium low and let it simmer until the liquid is reduce to half. In the end, add a couple of tbs. of Greek yoghurt and, optional, you can chop some parsley on the dish. Plate it, pour yourself some more of the wine and raise the glass for grandmothers everywhere, be they picky about their mushrooms or not.


PS:  if using game poultry, make sure to lightly coat the meat in some flour before cooking it. This will create a nice caramelized exterior, as well help the sauce thicken.

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