Autumn, Winter, Main

Mushroom, Pickled Walnut & Ale Cobbler

This is a paid partnership with Opies Foods

Pickled walnuts are a quintessential British food with a much-loved following – me included! If you haven't tried them before, you might be surprised to know they're not hard and crunchy, as you might expect from a regular walnut. Instead, they have a soft firmness, with a flavour that offers an earthy richness alongside a dark and tangy liquor that's sweet and lightly spiced.

These qualities make pickled walnuts a versatile cooking ingredient that's not just for cheese and charcuterie: they make a tasty and surprising addition to pies, stews, quiches and salads, too. The spiced vinegar also adds a great depth to dressings, sauces and gravies, which means you can easily make use of the whole jar without too much waste.

Pickled walnuts are the unsung heroes of my Mushroom, Pickled Walnut & Ale Cobbler, adding a rich umami depth of flavour that can sometimes be lacking in vegan cooking.

Opies Pickled Walnuts can be found in all major supermarkets in the pickle aisle, and cost around £3 a jar.

For more exciting ways to use them, head over to @opiesfoods on Facebook or Instagram, or visit their website.

PREP TIME:
40 minutes

COOK TIME:
30 minutes

SERVES:
6

Ingredients

For the mushrooms

40g porcini mushrooms

2 tbsp light oil, such as groundnut

1 onion, diced

2 bay leaves

A few sprigs of thyme

700g baby or regular chestnut mushrooms, large ones halved or quartered

3 cloves garlic, crushed

3 tbsp plain flour

200ml ale

2 tsp marmite

2 tsp tamari sauce

1 veggie stock pot or stock cube

2-3 Opies pickled walnuts, roughly chopped

For the cobbler topping

350g self-raising flour

3 tbsp mixed chopped herbs – parsley, chives, thyme, dill or rosemary will all work

2 tsp mustard powder

1 tsp sea salt

200g chilled plant-based butter, chopped into cubes

Juice of 1 lemon

1 pickled walnut, finely chopped

2-4 tbsp cold water

6 bay leaves

To serve

Vegetables of your choice, plus boiled or mashed potatoes

Instructions

  1. Add the porcini mushrooms to a bowl, cover with 500ml of boiling water, and set aside.
  2. Add the oil and onion to a large, deep-sided frying pan, and sautée until soft and translucent. Add in the bay leaves, thyme and chestnut mushrooms, and cook on medium-high heat until browned and beginning to soften.
  3. Reduce the heat, add the garlic, and cook for a further minute. Stir in the flour, turn the heat up a little, and add the ale. Let the ale bubble to deglaze the pan, then reduce it down to coat the mushrooms.
  4. Drain the porcini through a sieve into a jug, and add the liquor to the pan. Stir to combine, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
  5. Stir in the marmite, tamari, and stock pot or cube, and grind in lots of fresh black pepper. Roughly chop the porcini, and add them to the pan along with the chopped pickled walnuts. Stir to combine, taste for seasoning, and adjust if needed. Leave to simmer gently.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6, while you make the cobbler topping.
  7. Combine the flour, herbs, mustard powder and salt in a bowl. Add the butter, and rub the mixture together with your fingertips to form lumpy breadcrumbs.
  8. Make a well in the centre and add the lemon juice, chopped walnut and cold water. Bring the dough together until it forms a ball, being careful not to overmix. Add more water if needed.
  9. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll until roughly 2 cm thick. Cut into 8 rounds, bringing the leftover dough back together to make more rounds if needed.
  10. Pour the mushroom mixture into a baking dish, and top with the cobbler rounds. Poke a bay leaf between each one.
  11. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the biscuit topping has risen and is lightly golden and the mushrooms are gently bubbling. Remove the bay leaves before serving with your choice of vegetables, and perhaps some boiled or mashed potatoes.

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