I'm all porked out.
The recent chorizo addiction has gotten out of hand. I need to rein it in, but gently, with compassion.
I've been seeing this thing called "mushroom bacon" cropping up on blogs and in vegetarian cookbooks, and til now, I wasn't taking the bait. Yes, mushrooms can be a great substitute for meat - you can roast them into a satisfying, chewy texture with loads of meaty, umami flavor. But could they really placate the most strung-out bacon addicts?
After six weeks of mainlining Irish chorizo, I figured it was the perfect time to give it a whirl.
But first, a side note:
Like most of the recipes I've been writing lately, there are some other practical reasons this salad has come about.
For the first time in my life, I have access to eggs fresh out of the henhouse - the perfect egg for poaching without spinning into a diaphanous white octopus the moment it hits the water.
Also, it seems like every other day I tote home some new kind of bread I baked in class, beaming like a proud mama, only to forget about it the second one of my roommates throws a more delicious-looking loaf on top of the pile.
What does this mean? Croutons galore.
This salad makes a great late-night supper or brunch dish. Play with the seasonings on the mushrooms - a drizzle of soy sauce would taste great, or a dash of Worcestershire. Sub in some maple syrup for the sugar. Just pretend it's bacon, and you may even begin to believe it...
Mushroom Bacon, Garlic Croutons and Poached Egg Salad
Serves 4 as a starter
Knife, stovetop, oven, 1 small roasting pan, medium saucepan, parchment paper, skillet, bowl
1 lb / 450g mushrooms, sliced about 1/4" thick. Large brown ones are great.
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sugar or a drizzle of honey or agave
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2-3 pieces of stale bread (about 1 cup, once sliced)
4 very fresh eggs
1 head of butter or romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
1 garlic clove or 1 tsp shallot, minced
1.5 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 tsp mustard
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350F / 175C.
Toss mushrooms with a drizzle of olive oil, about 1 tsp salt, some freshly ground pepper, paprika, sugar and garlic powder. Line baking pan with parchment paper. Scatter mushrooms in a single layer across pan. Use two pans (if you have them) so the mushrooms will bake in a single layer. Roast for 15-20 minutes, til edges are just beginning to get browned. Flip mushrooms and bake for another 15-20 minutes, til all the water has evaporated out and mushrooms look chewy, almost like bacon.
Meanwhile, cut bread into cubes, or tear by hand if using good crusty bread. Heat about 2 Tbs olive oil over medium-high heat in skillet. Add sliced garlic and fry 30 seconds, then add bread and quickly toss to coat lightly with oil. Add a bit more if some pieces look dry. Add a pinch of salt. Fry til golden brown, stirring occasionally. It should take 5-10 minutes.
Make dressing - combine garlic, olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and mustard. Give a good whisk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a low boil. Add about a Tbs white vinegar and a good pinch of salt. If eggs are very fresh, omit the vinegar. Adjust heat so water is just simmering. Crack an egg into a small bowl. Using a long handle, give the water a good swirl, then gently drop egg into vortex. Cook for about 2 - 2.5 minutes minutes, til white is just set and yolk is still runny. Remove and drain on a paper towel, then poach remaining 3 eggs.
You can poach eggs in advance - just undercook them slightly and reheat in simmering water for about 10 seconds before serving.
Toss lettuce with dressing and croutons. Plate up with some mushrooms, a poached egg and a pinch of salt and freshly cracked pepper.