I am apparently on a mushroom kick. When I look back on my last few months of nightly dinners it is almost devoid of this delicious fungus. I have been enjoying my weekly crop share box of veggies so much since May (see top right of blog for more information) I have been able to completely ignore the vegetable aisle at the supermarket. The most conveniently located one to from our house is sadly lacking in all things that make grocery shopping more of a pleasure than a pain; glaring fluorescent lighting, loud tinny music, crappy vegetables, long shelves of prepackaged meat, unending corridors of instant-style meals, and clerks who have absolutely no interest in being there, which is understandable, but frustrating when they avoid all eye contact with you, for fear of being asked to do something!
Who can blame me for skipping as much of that experience as I possibly can? The other day however, I found myself in need of an onion, and as I past the rows of overly plump peppers and the too-perfect lines of glossy apples, I spotted the mushrooms. I imagined all sorts of things I could use them in, and promptly threw a couple of cartons into my shopping cart before grabbing the onion, and going on my merry way.
I ended up making a lovely pork dish with a creamy mushroom sauce, laced with the sweetness of fresh thyme. We had this with delicious locally grown spinach and potatoes.
I have also just remembered that there is a farmer close (ish) by who grows a variety of mushrooms. I’m thinking that today I will head to their place and buy myself a hoard. In other words; more mushroom recipes to follow!
For the Pork dish; You will need: 3 lbs rib-end boneless loin pork chops, 1 lb mushrooms, sliced, 2 tbs unsalted butter, 2 tbs olive oil, 5 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 cups chicken broth (or, 1 good quality veggie or chicken bouillon cube & 2 cups water), 1 cup heavy cream, sea-salt and freshly cracked pepper for seasoning, & to taste.
Preheat oven 400*
1 – Season each chop with a little salt and pepper. Put big saute pan on high heat and add a tbs of the oil and of butter. When the butter and oil get hot, add the chops in an even layer and sear in batches. You will need to add more butter and oil as you go. Transfer chops to a plate.
2 – Turn heat down to medium, and add another tbs of butter. Toss the mushrooms into the pan and cook for about 10 minutes before adding the thyme sprigs. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3 – Add the flour and stir into mushrooms until incorporated. Add the broth, stirring until the liquid comes to a simmer. Add the cream and continue to cook until it comes back to a simmer. Transfer the chops to the pan in an even layer, cover and place in the oven for 40 minutes.
*At this point, you could be done and just serve the dish with some pasta, rice or bread, and a big salad. You could also make the Spinach & Potato recipe which follows.
For the spinach & potato Side-Dish; You will need: 3 lbs baby red-skinned potatoes, 2 Anaheim peppers, sliced (or 2 long skinny seasonal peppers, which is what I snagged from my garden yesterday), 4 or 5 cups fresh spinach leaves, 2 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs unsalted butter, sea-salt & freshly cracked black pepper for seasoning and to taste.
1 – If your potatoes are on the big side, slice in half or quarters. Put them in a big pot and cover with cold water. Place on stove-top and boil (with lid on) until they are soft. Drain into a colander and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
2 – Put saute pan on medium heat and add oil and butter. Saute peppers for 3 minutes or so, before tipping in the potatoes. Season with some salt and pepper. Cook until starting to brown in spots. you will need to turn occasionally.
3 – Add the spinach and cover with lid. The spinach will wilt in about 5 minutes. Turn heat off and give everything a gentle stir. Keep warm until ready to serve (try to time having them ready by the time the chops come out of the oven).
Serve everyone a couple of chops with lots of mushrooms, and a side of potatoes and spinach.