By Lauren Stacy Berdy
Don't attempt to pigeonhole starches. They are unsystematic in their flexibility. Starches also fill us with admiration. I cook and eat all of them (at least the ones I know about- there are many to still discover).
This simple savory pudding was birthed into being from leftovers. It has a natural correspondence to what the Italians have probably done for centuries- but theirs has a factor of cheese. This recipe has a factor of potatoes.
A few simple ingredients form a poetic companionship and take an unexpected direction. The ingredients get formed into a log and sealed, then poached in water. This process makes a stable, variegated, card-carrying carbohydrate that has much in in common with a very good stuffing. And who doesn't like stuffing?
This is a playful recipe that can also animate a plate. I enjoy placing it under a formed medallion of veal brisket- the additional height gives the plate more theater. These little starches can be dramatized with a turn in olive oil. Like all good stuffings, they crust up beautifully. There's a perfect naturalness to it all. These simple, almost primitive ingredients have a magnetic attraction for each other. They also speak with candor: starches are innocent and honest eating.
½ cup dried mushrooms: soaked in a cup of water for an hour
3 cups matzo farfel
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek: cleaned, checked and diced
½ tablespoon fresh thyme, stemmed
or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large Idaho potato: peeled and shredded
2 eggs: checked and beaten
Have all the ingredients primed.
Place the soaked mushrooms in a colander over a bowl. Add the matzo farfel to the mushroom water, pressing it down to soak in all the liquids. Set aside.
Chop the mushrooms into small pieces.
Pour the olive oil into the pan. Over low heat add in the chopped leeks, mushrooms, fresh (or dried) thyme, salt and pepper. Stir.
Cover and sweat (but not color) the leeks. Cook for about 6-8 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Drain the matzo farfel. Discard the liquid. Put the farfel back into its bowl.
Shred the potato directly into the soaked matzo farfel and stir.
Add in the beaten eggs. Stir. Add in the cooled, seasoned cooked mushrooms. Stir to combine.
Place the box of plastic wrap at the top of the cutting board.
Tear off a sheet of plastic wrap at least 12" x 15". Promptly lay it down flat onto the board. Place 1½ - 2 cups of pudding spread evenly about an inch from the longer edge.
Fold the edge over the filling and keep rolling, using the ends to tighten the filling as you go, forming a log.
Repeat, using up the filling.
Wrap each roll in aluminum foil. Twist and tighten the ends, tailoring the filling. Curl the ends so the roll fit into the cooking pot.
Place the filled logs into an empty pot and fill with water. Place a plate over the logs to insure they stay submerged.
Bring the water to a simmer and cook for ½ hour. Place the cooked, enclosed logs on paper towels. Cool.
Using scissors, cut both ends off and un-wrap the entire log.
The Wild Mushroom Pudding can now be used as a side dish.
Cut it into 2" portions and place in an oiled casserole. Reheat covered in foil.
Serves 8 with leftovers
Recipe: Kosher, parve, passover, pesach