Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth and finely slice them. In a large cast-iron pan heat the oil until smoking. Add the button and field mushrooms, garlic and shallots and sauté until golden brown. If the pan is not large enough, sauté the mushrooms in two batches as it is important that the pan maintains the heat otherwise the mushrooms will release their juice and end up boiling in it, losing colour and much of the flavour. When golden brown, add the Madeira and continue to cook until it has reduced by three-quarters. Remove the pan from the heat and lightly season the mushrooms with salt and freshly ground pepper. Transfer the mushrooms to a heavy-based saucepan, cover with the water or chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and skim off any impurities that float to the surface. Add the fresh herbs and the dried cep mushrooms and simmer for 45 minutes. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Pass the stock through a fine sieve and press down on the mushrooms to extract as much flavour and colour as possible. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Pour the mushroom stock into a stainless steel container and refrigerate to solidify any fat that may rise to the surface. Remove the fat before using.
© 2005 Liam Tomlin. All rights reserved.