We are really lucky here to have access to cave grown mushrooms. Because they grow slowly they are completely unlike supermarket mushrooms in texture. Cave grown mushrooms are meaty and flavourful, like a wild mushroom. They cost a bit more, but it's worth it, as they don't reduce much in quantity when cooked. Best of all, they are clean, with no leaf litter to wipe off and no maggots (unlike wild mushrooms).
2 large mushrooms (Portabello type)
A pot of soft fresh cheese with herbs and garlic (such as Boursin)
- Heat the oven to 180C.
- Snap the stems out of the centre of the mushrooms and chop them finely.
- Lightly brush the mushroom caps inside and out with oil.
- Mix the mushroom stems into the cheese and fill the mushroom caps.
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs on the cheese, generously enough to give complete coverage.
- Dot the breadcrumbs with butter.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Serves 2.
The mushrooms came from Loches market and cost €10/kg. Hendrick the mushroom man is there every Wednesday and Saturday, and at Amboise on Sundays. He sells button mushrooms (Fr. champignons de Paris), chestnut mushrooms (Fr. champignons rose), portabello (Fr. champignons gros or galipettes), shiitake, grey oyster mushrooms (Fr. pleurotes grises) and yellow oyster mushrooms (Fr. pleurottes jaunes), all cave grown. In season he will also have wild chanterelles (aka girolles) which come from the pine forests around where he lives in the Sologne.
The soft fresh cheese I used came from a local dairy farmer who delivers twice a week to my home. In French it is called fromage aux fines herbes. She also supplies the EpiServices in Preuilly sur Claise and Le Grand Pressigny as well as the Intermarché supermarket in Yzeures sur Creuse.
The breadcrumbs I made myself by taking old hard leftover baguettes and putting them in a calico bag. I then bash the heck out of them with a meat mallet before tipping them into a colander and shifting them. Any bits that don't go through the holes in the colander go back in the bag for another bout of bashing and the process is repeated. After two goes at bashing and sifting any bread still left goes in the compost. The resulting crumbs are fine and dry and make excellent crunchy coatings for mushrooms or meat.