Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Porcini Mushroom Tartlets

A while back, I was inspired to cook a French-themed dinner because I had never really cooked French food before. The dinner included some French onion soup, roast chicken number eight, and an eggplant compote. I wanted to cook something that could act as a decent side or appetizer to the meal. Because I already had a star-studded cast of chefs (Michael Mina, Julia Childs, and Joël Robuchon), I ended up gravitating towards Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Porcini Mushroom Tartlets. This recipe is probably one of the easiest things I've done for a quick, awesomely delicious appetizer/side.

First, bake some walnuts until browned to release their flavors and oils. Coarsely chop them after letting them cool a bit.

Next, poke some holes in some thawed and cut pastry dough. Yea, I thought about making my own. And then I realized I needed two things I didn't have at the time: (1) a bunch of free time, and (2) dough-making skills. Plans are in the works to change number two. Throw the dough into the oven.

For step three, butter up a skillet and sweat some onions until they yellow. This part takes the longest, but it's worth it. Cooking onions always smells awesome. Especially with butter. Oh, butter.

Next, coarsely process the onions and walnuts to produce a chunky mix of deliciousness. Season with plenty of salt and pepper to make the flavors pop.

Top the pastry dough with the onion and walnut spread and some quickly blanched mushrooms. Brush on a heavy dose of olive oil and send those babies into the oven. Special guest appearances by the onion soup and compote in this shot.

Top the finished product with some chives and serve! Easy breezy.

Yea, it looks prettier in the picture from the recipe, but you know what? It was still darn good. And I have no problem sharing this poorly misshapen tartlet because I enjoyed this dish so much. The tartlet came out crispy and buttery, the sweetness of the walnuts and onions really came through, and the chives helped to bring out the earthiness of the mushrooms.

Next time, I think I'd probably let the onions caramelize rather than just yellow to get out some more sweetness and balance out the sweetness with a spritz of lemon and a touch of cayenne. I'd also consider putting in fewer walnuts and substituting them with hazelnuts. Maybe you don't even need the nuts. And maybe you don't even need to blend the onions. Some thyme wouldn't hurt either. Also, imagine this sucker with some sautéed chanterelles, morels, or whatever mushrooms are in season. It'd probably be amazing, right? I'll report back some day.

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