Wild Mushroom Coulibiac
Based on a classic Russian pie, this makes a spectacular vegetarian centrepiece for a festive meal. Creamy risotto is layered with wild mushrooms, wrapped in Swiss chard leaves, baked in a light, rich brioche crust and served with a Madeira sauce. It takes some time to prepare, but the end result is worth it. (If you want to make ahead, cook as instructed and allow to cool thoroughly before freezing. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat for 45 minutes at 180˚C).
- 20g strongly flavoured dried mushrooms (use those with a good rich flavour, such as penny buns or other boletes, trooping funnels or St George’s mushrooms)
- 400g wild mushrooms (use a mixture of wild and cultivated if necessary), cleaned and sliced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for oiling
- 2 banana shallots or 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 250g risotto rice
- 1 tablespooon picked thyme leaves
- 650ml vegetable stock
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 50g freshly grated Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 150g Swiss chard
- Beaten egg, to glaze
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE BRIOCHE CRUST
- 400g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons (or 1 sachet) easy-blend dried yeast
- 150g butter, well softened
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons warm milk
FOR THE MADEIRA SAUCE
- 75g butter
- 1 banana shallot or ½ onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 celery stick, finely choped
- 20g plain flour
- 75ml Madeira
- 250ml vegetable stock
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce, plus more to taste if necessary
- Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 150ml boiling water. Leave to soak for 20 minutes while you prepare the brioche dough.
- Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt, sugar and yeast. Mix the dry ingredients well, then make a well in the centre and add the eggs and warm milk. Mix together, then work in the softened butter to make a soft dough. Flour a work surface, then turn out the dough and knead for 5 minutes. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and leave in a wam place to rise for 45 minutes .
- Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan set over a medium heat. Add the shallots, half the garlic, the thyme and cook for 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent and starting to turn golden. Meanwhile, lift the soaked mushrooms from their soaking liquid (reserving the liquid for cooking the rice), squeeze out any excess moisture and chop finely. Reserving one tablespoon for the sauce, add the remaining mushrooms to the onions in the pan and cook gently for 2 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir well to coat with the oil. Let the rice cook for a minute or so, until it starts to smell nutty, then add the mushroom soaking water (pour it in slowly and discard the last few tablespoonfuls, which will be gritty) and bring up to a simmer. Cook gently until the liquid is almost evaporated, than add a ladleful of vegetable stock. Simmer until the liquid is almost absorbed once more, then add another ladleful of stock, repeating the process until the stock is used up and the rice is just tender (if the stock runs out before the rice is cooked, use hot water).
- When the rice is tender, draw the pan off the heat and leave the risotto to cool slightly while you cook the mushrooms.
- Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan set over a medium heat. Add the remaining garlic and the prepared mushrooms. Cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring not too frequently to allow them to take on some colour. If any juices run out, reduce the heat and cook the mushrooms gently to evaporate. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Set a pan of water over a high heat and bring to the boil. Lay the chard leaves on a board, and use a sharp knife to cut out the thick central stem (you can save these to use in another dish). When the water boils, add ½ teaspoon of salt and then the trimmed chard leaves. Bring back to the boil and cook for 4 minutes, until the leaves are wilted but still bright green. Lift out the leaves and rinse them under cold water to cool them and preserve their colour. Press the leaves inside the folds of a clean tea towel to blot any excess moisture and set them aside.
- To the cooled risotto add the egg, parmesan and lemon zest, and stir well.
- Preheat the oven to 190˚C. Lightly flour your work surface and knead the risen dough for 2 minutes. Roll out one third of the dough to make a rectangle roughly 20cm by 30cm. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Lay a third of the chard leaves in the centre of the dough rectangle leaving a wide margin clear around the edge. Spoon half the risotto mixture on top of the chard leaves and shape into a neat rectanglular block, roughly 15cm by 25cm. Spread over the wild mushrooms in an even layer and top with the remaining rice. Pat into a neat block once more. Fold up the chard leaves around the edge of the block and press them against the sides. Use the remaining chard leaves to cover the block of rice and mushrooms.
- Roll the remaining dough to a rectangle about 30cm by 40cm. Brush the exposed edge of the dough on the baking tray with beaten egg and then take the larger rectangle of dough and cover the filling. Form the dough snugly to the shape of the block, and press the edges of the dough firmly together all the way around. Trim off excess dough to make a neat, even rim, then crimp or press with a fork all the way round. (You can roll the excess dough to make decorations for the top of the coulibiac, if you like). Brush the dough all over with beaten egg and bake in the preheated oven for around 40 minutes, until golden brown all over.
Meanwhile make the sauce. Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan and add the shallot, carrot, celery and reserved mushrooms. Cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened and starting to brown. Stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes until lightly browned, then add the Madeira. Stir well as it bubbles up, then gradually add the vegetable stock. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the soy sauce and taste for seasoning (add more soy sauce if you wish). Simmer the sauce very gently now until the coulibiac is ready, stirring from time to time.
- When the coulibiac is cooked, remove it from the oven and leave it to cool for ten minutes, to make it easier to slice. Transfer to a board, strain the sauce through a sieve into a jug, and serve.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK