Mushrooms are cultivated, found wild, and used in the cuisines of both Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige. I’ve just returned from a month visiting both areas, and feasted on many seasonal dishes showcasing the local varieties. Wild mushrooms have been prized since ancient times; the Pharoahs of Egypt controlled their distribution, and they were referred to as “food of the gods” in ancient Rome. Due to the limited growing season of the wild varieties, they were in short supply until the French developed methods to cultivate them. In the late 1800s, entire families from Venice traveled to France to work in the mushroom farms in the caves near Paris, and learn these techniques. These families returned to Italy and began their own mushroom farms. These first farms were located in the caves around Costozza, a town on one of our favorite bike tour routes through the Berici Hills, as these possessed the optimum humidity and temperature for mushroom growth.
Caves are also used for cultivation in Trentino-Alto Adige, but the many woodlands of this area are a source of a huge variety of wild mushrooms. There are the well-known wild varieties that are found in the Veneto as well – chanterelles, porcini and chiodini, but also many lesser-known: penny buns caps, pine mushrooms, parasols, russulas, Caesar’s agaric, and even 12 different species of Trentino black truffle.
I led a cooking class on two of our recent fall tours, and came up with this recipe to take advantage of the lovely mushrooms found in the local markets in Italy this time of year. We had some wonderful chanterelles, porcini, and a rare treat for me – the Caesar’s mushroom, not found here in the US. We simplified the recipe even further, replacing the zabaione with a drizzle of truffle oil made with black truffles found outside our door in the Berici Hills.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, or my recipe from here
1 pound mixed fresh wild mushrooms, or a mix of fresh and reconstituted dried
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 eggs, separated into whites and yolks
2 tablespoons prosecco
1 tablespoon beef stock
Truffle oil or truffle cream
Remove the frozen pastry from the freezer, and bring to temperature following the manufacturer’s instructions. Preheat the oven to 350°.
Clean the mushroom by brushing and wiping; do not hold under running water. Slice the mushrooms.
Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a sauté pan. Add the shallots and saute until soft and translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, another minute or less. Remove from heat, and season with the parsley, salt and pepper.
Roll the pastry out into a thin sheet. Spread the mushroom mixture over the middle third of the pastry, lengthwise. Cover the mushrooms with the remaining pastry, rolling up, and place on a sheet pan. Brush with the egg whites. Bake in the oven until bubbling inside and golden outside.
For the zabaione:
Fill a saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer. Place the egg yolks, prosecco and broth in a stainless steel mixing bowl, place the bowl in the saucepan (creating a bain marie) and whisk the ingredients together over the simmering water until creamy and beginning to thicken. Season with salt and pepper, and truffle oil or cream.
Slice and serve.