Champignons à la Castiglione

Castiglione Mushrooms

Mushrooms prepared this way and served with small pieces of bone marrow are a classic garnish for beef dishes. Times have changed, the garnish has become the main event. Minus the bone marrow, Castiglione mushrooms make a handsome vegetable course or hors d’oeuvre. I presume that a chef to Count Baldasar Castiglione, the fifteenth-century Italian writer, was originally responsible for this dish. Those were the days when the dish bore the name of the person who employed the chef. Self-employed designer chefs have changed all that.

Ingredients

  • 8 large flat mushrooms
  • 1 large aubergine
  • salt
  • a knob of butter
  • 225 g(8 oz) polished Camargue rice or Italian risotto rice
  • olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 300 ml (about ½ pt) good ham or chicken stock
  • 1 wineglass dry white wine
  • 100 g( oz) cooked ham, diced
  • chopped parsley
  • quatre-épices
  • a little seasoned flour
  • breadcrumbs

Method

Wipe the mushrooms and cut off the stalks, chop the stalks finely. Place the mushrooms gill side up in a baking dish and prepare the filling.

Cut the aubergine into eight slices, salt and leave to drain in a colander.

Melt the butter in a pan, add a splash of oil and cook the shallot until soft. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until transparent. Gradually add the stock, the mushroom stalks and the wine in three or four batches, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid fully each time before adding more. Cook until the rice is tender.

Add the ham and parsley and season with a little quatre-épices, and remove from the heat.

Rinse the aubergine in cold water; drain and dry on a cloth. Dip each slice in seasoned flour and fry briefly in olive oil. Drain on kitchen paper.

Divide the rice mixture between the mushrooms, making a neat pile on each. Flatten slightly and place a slice of aubergine on top and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Add a little extra wine to the baking dish and cover with a buttered paper or foil. The mushrooms can now be set aside for an hour or so if preferred.

Bake in the centre of a moderate oven (Mark 5, 190°C, 375°F) for 25–35 minutes.

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