I couldn’t deny myself the pleasure of using this russian expression which in vernacular is way more poetic than just roots and leaves it roughly stands for. The plant in question was an oyster mushroom, and the idea to separate stems from caps came after our Burger Bar dinner in Vegas when i ordered oyster mushrooms for topping. The burger came with deliciously chewy mushroom pieces that resembled elbow macaroni.
Well honestly i didn’t give this idea much thought during the dinner itself but the next day when we were riding to the Valley of Fire i had plenty of time to contemplate our meal. So right after we came back home i bought a load of oyster mushrooms and used their stems to make a fish pie (see the post below).
As a result for the next day dinner there was a lot of caps left but fortunately i stumbled on a recipe for mushroom and potato al forn in a recently published Moro East.
The discovery was exciting on so many levels – i love all Moro books (make it three) and share their enthusiasm for particular ingredients (including oyster mushrooms), flavors and dishes. Also in the past i spent a lot of time researching the ultimate "patate e funghi al forno" recipe. There were promising versions in the books of notable food writers but none of them came close to this Moro’s recipe.
I should say that the dish requires a certain precision – thinly sliced potatoes of the right waxy kind (i used organic Caribe from Wood Prairie) , oversized roasting pan to keep the layering thin ( 12" pan for just 6oz of mushrooms and two medium potatoes), just a hint of garlic, and a slow last broiling step for caramelizing the top (10mins not too close to the broiling element and with the oven door ajar). And the dusting with smoked paprika (1/2tsp evenly over such a large surface) makes quite a difference..
At the foothills of the Pyrenees they might eat this dish with roast lamb but impeccably fresh radishes worked well for us: let the glorious combination of potato and mushrooms shine.