Thursday, September 6, 2007
Chanterelle, Pancetta, & Cherry Tomato Galette
François Pierre La Varenne (1618 – 1678) was a Dijon-born chef who ran the kitchens of the Marquis d’Uxelles. He was the author of the first logistic, methodically planned cookery books, many recipes of which are still usable today. And, in writing these books as carefully as he did, he captured a fascinating moment in culinary history when French cuisine broke away from the Italian influence it had been under for 150 years (and in which La Varenne had trained) and found its own style and voice.
One of La Varenne’s best-loved recipes is his duxelles, which were most likely named for the aforementioned Marquis. Duxelles are simply a preparation of very finely minced mushrooms, shallots, and often garlic and thyme that are sautéed together and used for stuffings, garnishes, or as a base for sauces. The sauté serves to concentrate the umami of the mushrooms, as does the sherry or white wine that is often added towards the end and reduced until nothing is left but focused, savory, unbelievably craveable flavor.
Of course I tend to avoid time-consuming prep work whenever possible – and you should take it on faith that duxelles need one heck of a lot of mincing – but the spectacular flavor profile La Varenne created is too good to miss. Here I use the same idea with whole and halved chanterelles and highlight their aromatic pungency with a little pancetta and roasted cherry tomato. The result is a free-form, rustic galette that’s fit for a feast but, frankly, heaven to come home to after a long day - I often keep 1 lb rounds of pastry dough in the freezer for this very purpose and just put them in the fridge to defrost that morning.
Our chanterelles are almost finished, and the porcini will soon take their place as the seasonal mushroom of the moment. But Honey Hollow Farm still has some beauties - ablaze like the late-summer light itself - despite the dry weather up north. And this galette is my favorite way of celebrating them. Render out the pancetta fat as I do, so your pastry crust doesn’t become too heavy, and serve your galette forth with a tangy green salad and a glass of something full-bodied and reviving.
Serves 4 – 6
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. very cold unsalted butter (or 6 oz. butter and 2 oz. vegetable shortening)
6 – 9 tbsp ice water
¼ lb pancetta, sliced very thinly
½ lb chanterelles (or other seasonal mushrooms)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb shallots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced into half moons
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 sprigs thyme
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry sherry
3 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes
In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, sugar, and pepper to combine. Dice the butter into small cubes with a sharp knife. Add to the food processor and pulse just until the mixture looks like coarse oatmeal. Leave the processor running as you quickly add the first 6 tbsps of ice water. Stop it immediately and pulse, adding the rest if necessary, until the dough only just starts to come together.
Turn the dough out on a sheet of parchment and press into a disk. Use the tips of your fingers for this rather than the palms of your hands – the less heat and movement the dough is subjected to, the more tender it will be. Wrap the disk of dough in more parchment and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 3 days.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Lay a single layer of pancetta slices into a large saucepan, making sure not to overlap them. Put the pan over low heat and allow the fat in the pancetta to slowly render out. Turn the slices to help them cook evenly. Once they are very crisp, remove to paper towels to drain and continue with the rest of the pancetta.
Brush the chanterelles with a brush or cloth to remove dirt. Trim the tip of the stem ends. Small mushrooms may stay whole – larger ones should be halved or quartered lengthwise.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add a good glug of olive oil. Add the shallots and sprinkle with kosher salt. Once the shallots are translucent, add the chanterelles and sprinkle with more salt. You may need to add more oil if the pan looks dry. Let the chanterelles give up their liquid and allow to cook off, stirring often. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring often, about 1 more minute.
Add the leaves from 6 thyme sprigs and season with freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat and pour in the sherry. Return to medium-high heat and bubble until the liquid cooks off and there is only oil left. Remove from the heat and check the seasoning with more salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Weigh out about 1 lb of the dough – the rest can be frozen for 4 – 6 months. Let it come back up to room temperature for 10 minutes. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll the dough out on the paper to a circle about 15 inches across.
Toss the rounds of pancetta into the mushroom mixture. Pile the ingredients in the center of the dough. Arrange the cherry tomatoes on top of the filling. Fold the sides of the dough up over the mushrooms, working around the circle, so that each fold overlaps the last (see the photo above).
Bake the galette in the oven for 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Cool on a rack for 10 -15 minutes before serving, sprinkled with the rest of the thyme leaves. The galette is also delicious at room temperature.