“I don’t try to make dishes for vegetarians,” says Andrew Davies, executive chef of Adelaide’s Press Food and Wine. “I want to make vegetarian dishes that anyone wants to eat.” On a menu with entire sections dedicated to offal, and beef and bird from the wood grill, the mushroom pithivier (pie) has become a crowd favourite. Davies and his culinary team must be doing something right.
The dish combines creamy mushroom ragu with soft taleggio cheese and light disks of puff pastry. “I go to the Gepps Cross Market on a Sunday and buy boxes of seconds mushrooms,” says Davies. “They’re slightly older so when you make a ragu they’re gooey and mushroomy and deep in colour and pungent. Whereas, if you use brown mushrooms you have to cook the hell out of them. It’s like trying to make tomato sauce out of unripe tomatoes.”
Press makes its own puff pastry but Davies suggests using Carême pastry.
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Try it at home.
Truffled Mushroom and Taleggio Pithivier with Cauliflower Puree
1kg of mature field mushrooms, cut into 1cm cubes
1 medium brown onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 sprigs thyme
250ml thickened cream
4 tbsp good quality truffle paste (tartufata)
The cauliflower puree
½ head cauliflower, finely chopped
Salt and white pepper
Sheets of puff pastry
100g good quality tallegio cheese
To make the filling
Place a thick-based pot on a high heat. Add the mushrooms and butter, getting lots of colour and caramelisation on the mushrooms. When suitably cooked and most liquid evaporated, remove from the pot.
In the same pot add the onions, thyme and garlic and sweat until translucent. Add the mushrooms back into the pot and cook for a further 2 minutes allowing the flavours to marry.
Add the cream and reduce until the mix becomes thick, rich and scoopable. Fold through the truffle paste, season and cool.
To make the cauliflower puree
Heat a thick-based pot on medium. Add the cauliflower, cream and milk, bring to simmer and cook until the cauliflower is soft. Strain off the mixture, retaining both the cream and the cauliflower. While still hot, add the cauliflower to a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add the butter and enough of the reserved cream for a velvet-like consistency. Season.
Building the pithivier
Cut an 11cm-diameter ring of puff pastry, then place a 7cm ring cutter on top and fill it with the mushroom mix. Place a generous slab of tallegio on top. Egg wash the remaining pastry on show around the mushroom mix. Gently remove the ring from the mushroom.
Put the pithivier in the fridge to set. Cut a 12cm round of puff pastry. When you’re ready to put the pithivier in the oven, place the 12cm piece of pastry over the top and press down the edges to seal. Egg wash the whole top and score it, starting from the middle and moving outwards. Bake at 180 degrees for about 14 minutes. Tip: after 4 minutes give it another brush of egg wash, for a nice brown finish.
Pour a generous amount of cauliflower puree into the middle of the plate and place the cooked pithivier on top. Fill the rest of the plate out with some dressed, crunchy bitter leaves.