Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I Would Prefer Not To See This Headline: Naked Chef Meets Tragedy From Wild Mushroom

Jamie at Home with Jamie Oliver

Grilled Mushroom Risotto
Wild Mushroom and Venison Stroganoff

Mushroom hunting makes me nervous. I’m just glad it’s not done with a gun. At least Jamie starts out the show with the proviso not to go wild mushroom picking unless you’re with someone who really knows mushrooms.

Jamie’s going with his friend, mushroom expert Matt Gennaro. They go off and Jamie spots the first one – a porcini. He picks it and then makes sure...listen to this...that there are no maggots in it.

Then he finds another one. Gennaro makes him cut into the mushroom and count to five. It turns bright blue. THAT means you have to boil it before eating. No thank you. Scary.

Jamie decides to make a treat for the two of them, right there in the middle of the woods. He pours olive oil in a sauté pan (where did that come from?) and adds mushrooms and then a bit of garlic and wild thyme. They agree that it’s nice to use “woody herbs” in the woods. “Don’t forget we’re cooking in a forest,” the mushroom hunter says.

Jamie thinks Gennaro will get mad because he wants to add a bit of chili powder. No, he’s fine with it. What’s a bit of hotness anyway when you're taking your life in your hands everytime you take a bite of your afternoon snack? Jamie adds a bit more oil to the mushrooms in the pan. They spar a little about adding salt. Gennaro says it needs some and Jamie tastes…not to doubt him, but to see how MUCH salt.

Beautiful close-up of sautéing mushrooms. He doesn’t go into the whole Michael Chiarello thing (which I always do now) of tossing the mushrooms in oil and then just leaving them alone on high heat to pick up some color. Jamie does say to always use a big pan or they’ll steam.

Anyway, maybe all the rules go out the window when you’re cooking outside…

Jamie adds a little butter and just a squeeze of lemon juice from the heel. (I’m not kidding, he’s using only the very end of the lemon). Gennaro tastes the pan juices with a bit of bread.

Jamie spoons the mushrooms over really crusty toast. They taste with the biggest crunch I’ve ever heard. Goodness, no one gets into their food like Italians. “Bloody good”, Gennaro pronounces.

Next Jamie is back in the shed making a mushroom stroganoff. I’ve loved that dish ever since the Moosewood Cookbook. Oh wait, there’s venison in it, not exactly Moosewood style.

Oh, by the way, there appears to be a brain on Jamie’s cutting board.

Jamie busies himself with the rice. He’s boiled it in lots of water for 10 minutes and drains it in a colander, leaving a bit of water in the pot. He keeps the rice over the water and covers it tightly with foil to continue steaming.

Jamie finely chops a red onion (beautifully). I often think of Napoleon Dynamite when I watch Jamie. They’re both 2 hot guys who know how to move.

Actually, I think of Napoleon’s insight that you have to have “skills” to do well in life and attract the ladies. Jamie’s knife skills are awesome and if Napoleon could have chopped an onion with that precision, he would have been way ahead of the game.

Jamie heats olive oil on medium heat in a sauté pan. The onion goes in, he shakes the pan and adds some sliced garlic, also sliced beautifully.

He attends to the brain, which turns out to be a chicken of the woods mushroom. Of course, being Jamie, it could just as easily been a brain and one that he extricated himself. He slices it like an angel food cake into big chunks.

Jamie cuts the fat and sinew off his piece of venison and removes the cooked onions from the pan. He slices up the venison and seasons it with salt, pepper and 2 teaspoons of paprika by rubbing them briskly into the meat. “Don’t be afraid”, he coos. JAMIE, massaging a bunch of seasonings into meat, I can handle. Eating wild things that have to be examined for maggots? THAT, I’m afraid of.

Olive oil goes into pan. The chicken of the woods goes in for a second and the venison follows.

Jamie’s readying a delicious addition. He finely slices gherkins and the top part of parsley stems, along with the leaves. Some of the parsley goes in to the meat. He adds the onions back in and scrapes in any seasonings that were left on the board. Then a little butter, a little brandy and a big flare-up. He adds crème fraiche (or you can use sour cream) and lemon zest. Quite gorgeous.

He gets the rice into a serving dish. He adds some lemon juice and some of the gherkin/parsley mix to the stroganoff. He plates it up and tops with a bit more of the green stuff. Jamie does a little dance (similar to ND’s) and gives us this irresistible look that tells us this is the best thing ever…

There’s an odd commercial. I’ve never seen this product before. It’s for a Cuisinart MIXER, which is a complete rip-off of a Kitchen-Aid, except that you can harness a blender to the top and liquidize your margaritas ten feet off your countertop. I don’t think so.

H wouldn’t find it unusual that I have an opinion about this…as well as 99% of everything else in the universe. I like dedicated appliances. Less can go wrong and you don’t have to lose your knife sharpener if your ice crusher (or whatever) breaks. Also, there are many times that I’m using my blender at the same time as my mixer. What if I’m kneading dough and making a vinaigrette? Or beating egg whites and making Madhur’s spice blend? Stick with Cuisinart for food processing and KitchenAid for mixing.

Jamie’s back and he’s STANDING on Gennaro’s shoulders wielding some kind of huge bladed tool. He’s cutting down an enormous chicken of the woods from way up on the side of a tree.

He’s in his shed cooking a risotto. He’s softening chopped white onions and celery and he stirs in a bunch of Arborio rice. He adds a bit of stock to dried "meaty, steaky"porcini (why is he using dried after his forays into the forest?) to rehydrate them.

The rice is “sounding a little hot", so he adds a shot of white vermouth. (I made a pledge half a lifetime ago to avoid white vermouth – I detest it – and I’ve never felt it necessary to go back on that oath. I always substitute white wine.)

He adds the mushroom soaking liquid, mushrooms, more stock and keeps "massaging" out the starch. Or maybe he said "massaging IN the starch. Whatever. Just keep stirring.

We get a shot of the outdoor garden. So lovely, so natural, so Jamie. He tears up girolles, then pieds de mouton, then chanterelles. He puts them on a dry griddle to bring out their nuttiness.

Jamie adds butter and lots of parmesan to the risotto. You “want it to be oozy, so you have to feed it more stock.” He covers it and lets it sit for 15 minutes, reminding us if you are ever served molded risotto, that’s bad. It has to be looser than that.

He turns over the toasted mushrooms and shakes them into a bowl. He has thyme tips (doesn’t that sound lovely?), chervil, parsley and a tiny bit (thankfully) of tarragon. He rolls them into a tight tiny cigar and slices them up. They go in with the mushrooms and olive oil, salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Jamie plates up the risotto with a handful of the mushroom mixture. He adds a small knob of butter and little grating of Parmesan cheese. He calls Gennaro to the table, where they enjoy the risotto together, possibly toasting their survival after one more mushroom hunt.

I’m not sure anyone else could be as adorable as Jamie, even when searching for poisonous stuff.


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I watched this episode over the weekend. That mushroom in the venison stroganoff scared me. It looked like an alien. I thought it would leap up and eat Jamie before Jamie had a chance to eat it.

I like the fact that he made a rich looking tasty dish, that wasn't horribly heavy on the meat, in what looked like a reasonable amount of time without too much fuss or complication. Goes to show you that you don't need the 30-Minute gimmick to make a simple and tasty meal - as I pointed out in a recent blog.

You like dedicated appliances? Would Alton Brown berate you for using "unitaskers"? ;-)

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I just love mushrooms and this sounds like such a fun episode. I have not really watched Jamie too much, I know, I am a wicked wicked woman, but I do like his food. I felt so bad for him when he was in Italy and people didn't want to eat his food, because it wasn't regional! LOL!

I always cook my mushrooms with Thyme! I love it that way.

Emiline said...

Chicken of the woods?! That's funny. It's a crazy looking mushroom.

This show sounds fun. I really want to see it now. I've only been morel hunting. I'd be too scared to pick any other shrooms.

Sue said...

Hi Rachel,

I know! That's why I actually thought he had some mammal's brain sitting there on the counter.

I guess that's one more reason for me not to like Alton. He likes appliances that do everything? Isn't that like those tv's that used to come with VCR's built-in? When the VCR inevitably broke, you would either have to get the whole thing fixed or get a new VCR that sat on top of the half broken tv.

Hi Jenn,
I didn't know that about Jamie. I'll have to search for some info about it. He and Gennaro certainly seem to have a mutual admiration for each other.

Yes, I always make time for thyme with mushies too.

You're brave to hunt for morels. BE CAREFUL.