Rachel Roddy’s Favorite Mushroom Pepper Goulash Recipe | Food | Local News

Rachel Roddy’s Favorite Mushroom Pepper Goulash Recipe | Food

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“Language, religion, music and storytelling are all part of the migrant’s cultural toolkit, but perhaps nothing provides a sense of identity more than food.” This is a line taken from the introduction to Yasmin Khan’s travel cookbook, Ripe Figs, which chronicles her travels through Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, and draws on the experience of migration of his family from Kashmir to Punjab, from Gilan in Iran to London. Also open on my desk here in the kitchen corner is Istria by Paola Bacchia, who uses recipes to tell the story of her parents’ emigration from Istria and Italy to Melbourne in the 1950s, alongside stories of his own return visits.

These are two of my favorite cookbooks of the last year, both for reading and for cooking. They are different, addressing distinct circumstances in different ways. Khan is bold in her account of journeys undertaken for protection and security, to escape political, economic and social unrest, and also challenges how some journeys are seen as problematic. Bacchia, meanwhile, remains focused on her own family and the daily act of cooking, though there are powerful clues to the complex history and politics of the Croatian-Slovenian-Italian-Istrian peninsula, as well as about the dramatic exodus and loss.

What both books share is love; and how food accompanies people on a journey, how it provides comfort and a way to maintain a sense of identity, especially as it evolves in a new place. For both authors, food answers the question: where do we come from and what do we believe in? For Bacchia, the answers come in the form of Venetian fish stews with polenta, desserts you might find in a Viennese café, Hungarian-style goulash, sauerkraut and pasta dishes with Italian and Croatian names. The recipe of the day, now in regular rotation here, is hers: gulash di funghi e peperoni.

Mushrooms and peppers make a compatible couple in terms of flavor and also nature. Despite their different textures, they behave the same in the pan, first releasing liquid, then reabsorbing the collective liquid and becoming almost velvety in the process. They both benefit from a bit of strong paprika, which lights up the earthy flavor of the bell pepper and mushroom.

While the no-cream version is lovely, adding it not only brings it all together, it gives the dish a luxurious dimension. Although it is full of flavor and quite rich, it is not heavy. Bacchia suggests serving it with polenta or mashed potatoes; I imagine boiled potatoes would be good too, or spätzle or other egg pasta. As you can see in the photo, and in keeping with the idea, recipes may change as they arrive in new kitchens. We ate it with rice.

Goulash with mushrooms and peppers (adapted from an Istrian recipe by Paola Bacchia)

Serves 4

15g dried porcini mushrooms
1 kg field mushrooms
2 red peppers,
or 1 large jar of roasted peppers
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
4 tablespoons of olive oil
20g of butter

Salt
2 cloves garlic,
peeled and thinly sliced
150ml dry white wine
150 g of tomato coulis,
or 1 heaped tablespoon of tomato paste dissolved in 140 ml of lukewarm water
A few sprigs of thyme
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
½
teaspoon hot and smoked paprika

1-2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
200 ml liquid cream, to serve (optional)

Soak the porcini mushrooms in 150 ml of lukewarm water for 15 minutes. Lift, chop and set aside, along with the soaking liquid. Wipe the field mushrooms and cut them into slices 7 mm thick, which means three for an average mushroom. Quarter the peppers, remove the seeds and skin, then cut each quarter into 3mm wide strips. (If using potted peppers, cut them into thick strips.)

Put a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan that you have a lid on over medium-low heat, add the olive oil and butter, then stir in the onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes , until tender. and translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the reconstituted and fresh mushrooms, increase the heat and cook, stirring, for a few minutes, until the mushrooms begin to shrink. Add the peppers and cook, stirring, for a few more minutes. (If you’re using jars, wait.)

Add the wine, passata, thyme and the porcini liquid with all the paprika mixed in first. Bring to a boil, then cover, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and, if using jarred peppers, add them now. Continue cooking uncovered for at least 15 minutes, tasting and watching. If you’re adding cream, you want most of the liquid to evaporate; if not, you need something more bubbly. Either way, once cooked, taste, adjust with salt, more paprika and a tablespoon or two of red wine vinegar. If you add some, incorporate 200 ml of liquid cream just before serving.

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