There are some dishes, quite a lot of dishes in fact, that I cook and never think twice about blogging the recipe for. In my mind they are too simple, too “everyday” and have no cured meat element to them!
Sod that I thought one day however. This is how I like to eat. Simple food, quality ingredients, honest cooking. If there can be a shed load of butter involved, than this makes it all the more reason to talk about it, no?
My favorite way of appeasing the hungry vegetarian in our household (Danika) is to cook up a variety of small plates most nights, depending on what is in the fridge or the garden. Typically I will muster together four little dishes, generally including some kind of green salad, and for me just add in some fish or meat. I am finding this vegetarian thing of her’s super fun. Whether I will in the dead of winter will be another matter, but right now it is enjoyable, creative and fun.
If I am to make a few small plates every night, I need them to be fast and simple. Given that we are now in Autumn I like certain amount of robustness of flavor to my dishes too. That often means slow cooking, but it can also mean working smart and having a base group of ingredients in the fridge to use as building blocks. What building blocks? Well, parsley butter for one. A very slow cooked sofrito is often in a jar at the back of the fridge too. Lets not forget some garlic confit too. I will make up a big batch of Rick Bayless’ Adobo sauce, and keep that in the fridge too, for quick marinades of meat fish. Whilst these ingredients can take a while to make, they last a long time and quickly add that slow cooked flavor to even very fast dishes – like this one.
So lets talk chickpeas for a second. I have only really cooked with them over the past year – often in Indian dishes, or homemade hummus. I really enjoy these little balls of joy. To me they are characterful little devils. They are a great size to be visually appealing and have a meaty, nutty flavor to them which works so well this time of year. I could get all pompous here and say that you HAVE to use dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, then slowly simmered with herbs. I could. But I won’t. Because, you know what… canned chickpeas are just fine. Nothing wrong with them. Sure, they ain’t quite the same as those you have cooked yourself, but heck they are great when you don’t have any pre-cooked and ready to go. The only canned brand I have tried is Eden, and whilst they are a little pricier than some, the organic and BPA free thing works for me – and frankly they are a darn sight cheaper than their compared weight in steak.
Chickpeas come alive when are either seared or roasted in a little butter until they start turning golden. The nuttiness gets pushed forward more, the flavor deepens and they get a lot more visually appealing. In this dish they are seared off with some local chanterelle mushrooms, just to be seasonal and all that jazz. But wait, if you order in the next 30 seconds there is more.. Black truffle shavings. Holy heck, mother of god knows what, those are my new favorite thing to grate over anything. ANYTHING. The lovely mustiness of those bad boys just goes brilliantly with shrooms (and butter.. and chickpeas), and helps give that “cooked for hours” taste that is always so appealing in the fall.
Black Truffles can be found in the farmers markets here in Seattle this time of year, but I am sure there are some you can order online. Heck, you could even leave the truffle out of the dish and it would still be lovely.. just missing a little something something.
Chickpeas with chanterelles and black truffles
NOTE: The mushrooms should be cooked in either cast iron or carbon steel. The pan needs to be heated well first and large enough to hold the mushrooms with room to spare. If the pan is crowded then the mushrooms end up stewing rather than browning. The cast iron/carbon steel gets hot, stays really hot and that helps the rapid evaporation of liquid which is so crucial to a nicely browned mushroom.
1 can of chickpeas (15oz) drained, or roughly two cups of cooked chickpeas
2 good sized handfuls of fresh chanterelle mushrooms
4 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste (roughly 1 tbs)
black truffle to taste
a small handful of very finely sliced red onion (totally optional, and not photographed)
To clean the mushrooms brush them over with a stiff brush to remove any dirt. If you have a rather stubborn piece of dirt, wet a cloth and wipe the shroom. Ideally they shouldn’t be hosed down with water. Roughly, very roughly chop the mushrooms.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy cast iron or carbon steel pan. When the butter is foaming, and everything is running nicely, toss in the mushrooms. Stir to evenly coat in the butter/oil, then leave them over a high heat.
Don’t touch the bloody mushrooms for a couple of minutes. Let them release their liquid and let that liquid evaporate. They will now start to brown. Toss them every minute or so as to make sure they evenly brown.
Add more butter if the pan is looking dry. Mushrooms seem to suck the stuff up. Toss in the chickpeas and toss to coat in the butter. Add more butter if required. YES, this recipe LOVES butter.
When the chickpeas are starting to get some lovely brown color to them, pull the pan from the heat. Toss in the red onion if using. Squeeze in some lemon juice, and season liberally with the salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Taste. Make sure there is enough acid there to cut through the butter richness.
Right at the table grate the black truffle over the dish, and make sure people have their forks ready. This dish is one that doesn’t like to be stood up on a date.