You can boost the flavour if you like by adding some wild mushrooms or a handful of pre-soaked dried mushrooms. Steamed greens or leeks make a good accompaniment.
Pretty much a classic savoury ‘cobbler’, this hearty vegetarian main course looks fabulous as you bring it bubbling to the table.
- 3 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- A large knob of butter
- 700–750 g mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tsp roughly chopped Thyme (optional)
- 150 ml red wine
- 250 ml vegetable stock
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the scone topping
- 175 g self-raising flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 75 g chilled butter, diced
- 1 tsp English mustard powder
- 75 g mature Cheddar or other well-flavoured hard cheese, grated
- 1 large egg
- 125 ml milk
- Soured cream (or plain wholemilk yoghurt)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, wide flameproof casserole or heavy-based saucepan and add the onion, carrot and celery. Cover and sweat over a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.
Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms in 2 or 3 batches. To do so, heat 1 tablespoon oil and a knob of butter in a large, wide frying pan over a medium heat. Add a batch of mushrooms, turn the heat up high and cook, stirring often, to encourage them to release their juices. Continue to cook until most of the juices have evaporated and the mushrooms are starting to caramelise. Add them to the sweated vegetables. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms, adding the garlic and thyme, if using, to the last batch towards the end of cooking.
Pour the wine into the frying pan and let it bubble for a couple of minutes, stirring to release the tasty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour over the mushrooms, then add the stock. Bring to a simmer and leave to cook gently while you make the topping.
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the mustard powder and cheese. Beat the egg with the milk, then stir lightly into the flour mix, bringing it together into a very soft, sticky dough (much looser than a conventional scone dough).
Taste the mushroom stew and add more salt and pepper if needed. If you’ve used a saucepan, transfer the stew to a wide oven dish. Drop large spoonfuls of the scone dough on to the mushroom mixture. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the scone topping is well risen and golden. Poke a skewer into one of the ‘cobbles’ to check that it is cooked right through.
Serve the ‘cobbler’ without further ado, with a bowl of soured cream (or yoghurt) for dolloping on top.
Recipe from Three Good Things by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury, hb, $45.00). Photography © Simon Wheeler.