Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Chops

A little magic mushroom dust does wonders to your meat (not that kind of mushroom, silly):

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Chops Recipe

You want these mushrooms – namely dried porcini mushrooms – in your kitchen. They keep indefinitely in your pantry, and can easily be reconstituted for use with pasta, risotto, soups, and sauces. Or you can simply blitz the heck out of them and turn them into dust.

Porcini mushroom dust is a magical elixir, fragrant with umami-rich aroma and flavor, and a gorgeous ingredient to add to rubs and marinades. Its earthy smoky flavor melds beautifully with garlic and herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, and is an excellent complement to meats, such as beef and lamb, when used as a rub.

While dried porcini mushrooms are pricey by the pound, the good news is that you don’t need a lot to make this rub – all you need is a half-ounce. When the mushrooms are dried, their flavor intensifies, so a little goes a long way. Other dried mushrooms, such as shiitakes, may be substituted, but in terms of flavor, the porcini is best. I use a spice grinder to blitz the mushrooms before mixing them with the rub ingredients, for a pasty consistency. If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can use a mini-food processor, with slightly coarser, results.

Note: If the dried mushrooms are slightly spongy and not entirely crisp before grinding, then cut them into 1/2-inch pieces, spread on a small baking tray, and place in a 300°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature before grinding.

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes, plus 20 minutes drying time if needed
Serves 4

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 lamb loin chops, each about 1-inch thick

1. Finely grind the mushrooms in a spice grinder. Transfer to a small bowl and add 3 tablespoons oil, the rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper and stir to blend.
2. Coat the lamb on all sides with the rub and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the lamb to the pan without overcrowding. Cook until brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook to your desired doneness, about 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Porcini Port Sauce

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Porcini Port Sauce

beef tenderloin tf

This recipe is worth celebrating. Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Beef Tenderloin has been selected as a winner  in this week’s Food52 contest for Your Best Holiday Roast. And that’s not the only reason it’s worthy of a party. Dried porcini mushrooms blitzed with fresh rosemary sprigs and black peppercorns create an umami-rich rub for the beef, forming a crust that melts into the meat while roasting. It’s stand alone delicious, yet when napped with a luxurious port wine reduction infused with more porcini and rosemary, this dish becomes an elegant dinner worthy of any holiday celebration. So go on, name a holiday – or just call it the weekend. This is a treat that your family and friends will be sure to enjoy. And that’s worth celebrating, too.

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Porcini Port Sauce

Salting the  meat in advance ensures juicy results and a crispy crust. A combination of port and red wine is used in this recipe. Red wine may be substituted with additional port. Serves 6 to 8.

For the beef tenderloin:
1 center cut beef tenderloin, about 3 pounds
Salt
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Olive oil

For the Porcini Port Wine Sauce:
1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in 3/4 cup hot water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 cup port wine
1 cup heavy-bodied red wine
2 rosemary sprigs
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1. Season the tenderloin all over with salt. Refrigerate 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Thirty minutes before roasting remove beef from the refrigerator.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Combine the mushrooms, rosemary, and peppercorns in a spice grinder. Grind to a coarse powder. Rub the beef with olive oil, then coat all over with the rosemary porcini rub.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beef and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes, turning as necessary. Transfer the beef to a roasting pan, and set the skillet aside without rinsing for the sauce.
4. Roast beef in the oven until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 125*F, about 30 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand for 15 minutes.
5. While the beef is roasting, prepare the sauce. Strain the porcini water through an un-bleached paper towel into a small bowl. Reserve the strained liquid. Coarsely chop the porcini.
6. Add 1 tablespoon butter, the shallots, and porcini to the reserved skillet. Sauté over medium heat until the shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the port, scraping up any brown bits in the pan. Add the red wine, mushroom stock, and rosemary. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered until the sauce is reduced by about half to approximately 1 1/2 cups. Add the salt and taste for seasoning. Strain through a fine-meshed seive into a small saucepan, pressing firmly on the solids; discard solids. Heat the sauce over medium heat. Whisk in 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep warm until serving.
7. To serve, carve the meat in slices. Serve on warm plates with the porcini port sauce.

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

Crushed dried porcini mushrooms tossed together with finely chopped rosemary create an umami-rich crust for meat. This is a method I often use with beef. Then a good friend told me about a similar recipe she loves with lamb. So I had to try – especially since spring is the season for lamb.

I used a food processor to blitz the mushrooms before continuing to chop them by hand with the rosemary, resulting in a coarser rub. A spice grinder will create a finer crust.

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

This recipe is also delicious prepared on the grill. Makes 8.

8 lamb loin chops, each about 1 inch thick
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup finely ground dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves

Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Combine 2 tablespoons oil and the garlic in a bowl and smear all over the lamb. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Thirty minutes before roasting, remove the lamb from the refrigerator. Combine the mushrooms and rosemary in a small bowl. Coat both sides of the lamb with the rub and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the lamb to the pan without overcrowding. Cook until brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to oven. Bake until cooked to your desired doneness, about 10 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest 15 minutes before serving

 

Porcini Cheese Fondue

It perplexes me when the subject of cheese fondue comes up, and it’s often accompanied by a snide reference to the seventies. I find it sad that this quintessential alpine dish is relegated to a by-gone era evoking images of shag rugs, unfortunate hair and textured bell-bottoms. Certainly this was not intended when the rural inhabitants of Swiss and French mountainous villages devised a warming winter dish incorporating their local cheese and winter staples.

I may be biased. I was never a fan of the seventies, even when I lived in them. Conversely, I am a huge fan of Switzerland. After all, I lived there for 10 years following my stint at cooking school in Paris. My husband and I were married in Switzerland, and our children were born there. As a result, Switzerland holds a special place in our hearts and will always be considered home to our family.

The best way to a country’s soul is to experience its cuisine. As an expat in Geneva it was a delicious pleasure to embrace Swiss specialties, namely chocolate and cheese. We’ll leave the chocolate for another post. As for the cheese, we enjoyed it in all of its forms, and the Swiss tradition of melting it in deep pots with wine and spirits quickly became a favorite. When we eventually moved from Geneva to London, and then on to Copenhagen, I became more reliant on making my own version of fondue for wintry family dinners to satisfy our wistful cravings.

This recipe has been tweaked and fine-tuned over the years, influenced by taste and available ingredients. In addition to serving it with the usual bread, I like to pass around bowls of parboiled baby potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli florets for dipping.

Porcini Cheese Fondue

The extra ingredient in this cheese fondue is porcini mushrooms, which I highly recommend adding. They will simmer in the cheese imparting a rich umami flavor to the fondue. If you prefer a simple cheese fondue, omit the porcini. Serves 4.

3 tablespoons Calvados or Poire William brandy
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for serving
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 pound high quality alpine cheese such as Gruyère, Emmental, Comté. (I use 2/3 Gruyere and 1/3 Emmental), grated
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water until reconstituted, drained, squeezed dry and coarsely chopped
1 loaf peasant bread, cut in 3/4 inch cubes

Note: Have all of your ingredients ready before you begin. Once you start, the fondue will come together quickly, and during this time it must be constantly stirred. The fondue must not come to a boil during this time.

Combine Calvados, cornstarch, salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and nutmeg in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the cornstarch. Set aside.
Add wine and garlic to a large heavy saucepan or fondue pot. Heat over medium heat until tiny bubbles form, giving the wine a fizzy appearance without bringing to a boil. Add cheese one handful at a time, stirring constantly until each handful is melted before adding the next – do not let the fondue boil.
Once cheese is added, continue stirring one minute – do not let the fondue boil.
Stir in cornstarch. Continue stirring until mixture thickens to fondue consistency. (I find that some cornstarch brands thicken more easily than others. If your fondue remains thin, add 1 more tablespoon cornstarch diluted with 2 tablespoons white wine.) If using porcini, stir the mushrooms into the cheese at this point. Remove from heat. Pour cheese into a warm fondue pot if necessary. Serve immediately.

Serve with extra ground pepper, bread and parboiled vegetables such as small potatoes, cauliflower and broccoli florets.