Mushrooms with walnuts and chestnuts

Mushrooms with walnuts and chestnuts

Green Pickled Peaches
Chris Chen

I have in mind a luxurious version of a crouton with a texturally interesting accompaniment. The intent behind this recipe is to celebrate the texture of mushroom.

For the walnut paste


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 garlic clove, peeled but left whole
2 thyme sprigs
90g cubes of white sourdough bread
1 french shallot, finely diced
60g walnut kernels, peeled b y plunging into boiling water
2 tablepoons finely diced iberian ham
1 teaspoon brandy
80ml thick cream

For the ‘crouton’ base

Quantity Ingredient
100g plain flour
75g unsalted butter, cold from the refrigerator
25ml iced water

For the walnut and chestnut garnish

Quantity Ingredient
250g unsalted butter
300g unshelled chestnuts
2 stems fresh garlic, bulb and s tem trimmed, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, cut int o short lengths
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley leaves
75g oyster mushrooms, stalks removed, cut into 1.5 cm slices
75g king brown mushrooms, halved
50g whole, freshly shelled walnut kernels
1/2 lemon, juiced, to garnish


  1. Make the walnut paste:
  2. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat and add the garlic and thyme. When the butter starts to separate and has a nutty flavour, drop in the bread. Fry until just golden and crisp. Remove the bread and drain on paper towels. Add the shallot to the pan and fry over low heat until softened. Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and add the bread, walnuts, ham and brandy. Blend to a smooth paste. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. The flavour should be quite savoury and salty. Let the mixture cool then work in the cream.
  3. Make the ‘crouton’ base:
  4. Sift the flour and a good pinch of salt onto the workbench. Grate the cold butter onto the flour. Mix together with the heel of your hand and then use your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and quickly knead to a dough. Cover with plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Roll out the dough to 3 mm thickness. Put on a tray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate again for at least 30 minutes. Cut the pastry into 8 rectangles each measuring 12 x 5 cm. There will be excess pastry, which can be rolled into one and frozen for use at another time. Rest the pastry again, covered, for 30 minutes or so. Preheat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Spread 1½ teaspoons of walnut paste over each piece of pastry, leaving a few millimetres at the edges. Bake for 20–30 minutes until the pastry is golden on both the top and bottom. Serve warm.
  5. Make the walnut and chestnut garnish:
  6. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Shell the chestnuts. Melt 150 g of the butter in a small ovenproof pot and, when hot, add the chestnuts. Cover the pot, put in the oven and confit or slow cook for 35–40 minutes or until soft. Set aside and, when ready to use, strain off the butter. Melt the remaining butter in a sauté pan over medium–high heat and cook until it has a nutty smell. Add the garlic, spring onion and parsley leaves and fry until everything has a wilted appearance and tastes cooked. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until they are softened. If the mixture is sticking, add some water. Add the chestnuts and walnuts to warm through. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper. These seasoning ingredients are meant to accentuate the sweet and delicate balance of the ingredients.
  7. Assemble the dish:
  8. Use a central platter so people can grab what they want. The pastries are the base and the sauté of walnut and mushroom is messily arranged over the top. Use the fennel fronds as garnish for the finished dish. If there’s excess butter from the sauté, use it to dress the plate.

To shell chestnuts

  • To shell chestnuts, make a slit with a sharp turning knife at the pointy end, ensuring that the inner skin is also pierced and exposing the yellow flesh. Next (a trick I learned from a Spanish chef who worked with me) is to put the chestnuts in the microwave for 2 minutes on High in a covered container and peel while they’re hot and steaming (your hands will be scalded unless you hold the chestnuts with a dry tea towel). The alternative is to peel the husks o first, then fry the chestnuts in butter until the skins crisp up. Soften under hot water and then peel while hot.
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