Sunday, February 03, 2008

Jamie At Home: Episode 4, Mushrooms

In this episode, Jamie Oliver’s not just in his garden, he’s in the forest. He’s going foraging for wild mushrooms and joining him is his Italian friend Gennaro. Fans of Jamie’s show will remember Gennaro making some appearances and teaching Jamie to cook Italian. Gennaro has such a strong Italian accent, I always think he’s probably some Irish person with a TV Italian accent.

Anywho, Jamie and Gennaro are out foraging for mushrooms and Jamie spots a porcini mushroom that looks absolutely beautiful. I’ve only seen them dried, so the fresh version has this interesting amber color on the cap. Gennaro also shows another version of the porcini nearby that when he cuts into it, the inside turns from yellow to blue. Now, this would be a good reminder that you need to be an expert when picking wild mushrooms because there are poisonous ones out there. But Gennaro assures Jamie that this blueish porcini is safe. I guess we’ll see in 30 minutes.

Jamie finally gets cooking, and it’s like the Boy Scouts episode because they make a mushroom bruschetta out in the forest. He starts by warming up some olive oil in a non-stick skillet and then throws in the mushrooms they picked. Jamie and Gennaro debates about when the garlic should have been added. (Gennaro thinks it should be added before the mushrooms but Jamie adds it with the mushrooms because he thinks the garlic might burn by the time you add the mushrooms. They bicker like a married couple.)

With the mushrooms he adds fresh herbs like thyme and seasons with salt and pepper. He adds a tablespoon of butter and the small end of a lemon for some “twang.” With the juices from the mushrooms, this all combines to make a sauce that will be nice on the toast, which Jamie adds to the skillet to warm up. In the end, he basically throws everything on top of the toast and that’s it. Really, that’s it. I actually think it would have been good to add some eggs. I know, it’ll be like an omelet, but I think the eggs would have acted as a binder for all the mushrooms. Now it’s just a bunch of pieces on the toast. I guess it is camp cooking so he has to keep it simple. Gennaro calls it “bloody good.”

Jamie is back home since this show is called Jamie At Home and he makes a Venison and Wild Mushroom Stroganoff (venison is such the “it” meat these days).

He starts off making rice to serve with his stroganoff. (I always thought stroganoff was with pasta noodles?) It’s just simple plain white rice.

Then he expertly finely dices an onion, which he tosses into a pan to sauté. He adds some finely sliced garlic. Now he gets this weird mushroom that I think he calls “chicken in the woods” and it looks like a big yellow cauliflower. He cuts it into slices. Then he does the same with a venison loin, cutting into finger-size pieces and then cubing them. He seasons the meat with salt, pepper and paprika.

He sets the sautéed onions and garlic aside (he actually just throws it on the side of his butcher board, what a mess) and then adds the mushroom pieces into the pan, then the meat, and he lets that cook for awhile as he chops up some other ingredients, including gurkens and parsley. He adds the parsley stems to the pot with the meat and some crème fraiche, giving the whole pan a really nice caramelized color. He also adds some lemon zest.

Now he just plates up everything, putting the rice in a bowl and then in another plate he plates up the venison stroganoff and mixes in the gurken pieces along with more crème fraiche and the rest of the parsley leaves. It looks like a very hearty dish, if a bit messy. Jamie is so proud that he’s speechless. I love his expressions. You can tell what he’s thinking without him saying anything.

Jamie and Gennaro are back in the forest. Actually Jamie’s standing on top of Gennaro’s shoulders as he tries to use a long stick with a knife at the end to cut off this huge mushroom off the side of the tree. It looks like that big yellow cauliflower-looking mushroom that he put into his stroganoff. It is huge.

Jamie’s in a new cooking area. It looks like a greenhouse (or I guess it’s called a day room if there’s a kitchen in it) and for some odd reason he’s cooking while sitting in a chair. Just seems so unlike Jamie to be sitting around. Anywho, he’s making a grilled mushroom risotto. (Which is a very classic dish. In fact, I make my own wild mushrooms risotto that’s kind of similar.)

Jamie starts off with diced onions and celery in a sauté pan. Then he adds Arborio rice, the basic risotto version. In the meantime he gets some dried porcini and rehydrates them by pouring some hot broth into a bowl with the porcini for about two minutes. Back to his risotto, he adds Vermouth instead of white wine and then starts the process of adding small ladles of broth to the rice, and also adds some of the mushroom broth that came out of the porcini. (He says to make sure not to add the last bits of the mushroom broth, which can be a bit sandy.)

He chops up the rehydrated porcini into pieces and adds it to the risotto. While that cooks away, he gets some fresh wild mushrooms. I don’t recognize the names of them, including some fancy French name, except the chanterelles, which I love. He throws the pieces naked onto a hot griddle pan. (I actually saw another chef do the same, but he brushed it with some olive oil before adding it to the fire.)

Jamie finishes up his risotto by adding a nub of butter and grates some parmesan cheese from this big honking piece of parmesan. All this is done with the risotto off the heat because it’ll cook some more. He covers it up to let it cook, and then finishes the mushrooms off the grill by tossing them with some herbs and a squeeze of lemon.

He plates up his risotto and tops them with the mushrooms and it all looks beautiful until he adds this big nub of butter on top, which then looks kind of weird. He yells out “Gennaro” like a mom calling someone to the dinner table. They end with the theme music and then one last look at the two enjoying the risotto. “I love the mushrooms,” Gennaro says, helping remind us what we were watching in case we forgot between the time the show ended a few seconds ago and the theme music.

Must be a British Thing:
Just some clarification on some of the terms Jamie uses.

Gurkens=sweet pickles

Tin foil=aluminum foil

Jamieisms heard in this episode:


Nubs (clumps, as in “nubs of butter”)

Jamie At Home airs on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. on the Food Network. Visit Jamie’s Web site at More on the accompanying book for the series here.


Anonymous said...

it's actually "Gerkins"

Unknown said...

Nearly right. It's spelled gherkin and it's a small pickled cucumber - you might call it a dill pickle.

Anonymous said...

It would be called a Knob of butter, probably just his accent that sounded like Nub. We call it a Knob here in Blighty.