As leaves start to change colour and the evenings draw in the picnics and barbecues of Summer seem a distant memory and we can now focus on the news season's game and wild mushrooms. These stronger, darker flavours suit the weather and open up a whole raft of wine matching options as bigger, bolder wines come into play.
In the Yapp household we each too much red meat and are therefore making an effort to curb our consumption for both environmental and health reasons. Happily, we all share a penchant for the umami tastes of mushrooms which we especially enjoy paired with pasta. Soaking a large handful of dried porcini mushrooms may be a bit of a 'cheat' but it provides a good bosky base for fresh mushrooms and the resultant 'liquor' adds a nice earthy note when added towards the end of cooking. I buy whatever freshly foraged fungi I can get my hands on but never cook anything I've picked myself without a second opinion from an infallible source. I particularly like girolles (which are pricey) but less exotic field and chestnut mushrooms are more readily available and perfectly satisfactory.
Mushrooms do reduce a lot in cooking so I tend err on the generous side with about a kilo for four people. Purists brush and don't wash edible fungi but I'm not one of them. I opt for a brief cold rinse and then shake them dry in a clean tea towel. I slice any larger specimens and fry my mushroom medley in a little butter and olive oil in a large non-stick wok along with 2-3 cloves of sliced garlic. When everything looks nicely cooked I sometimes add a slug of cream before serving over pre-warmed bowls of plain pappardelle (or in extremis - or Norfolk - tagliatelle). I dress that with a spot of black pepper and a lot of chopped parsley.
Wine-wise this un-taxing mid-week dish calls for an unpretentious, life-affirming, earthy red - this month's Costières de Nîmes: Château Roubaud Rouge 2014 would be perfect.