Photo by Brett Stevens
In Umbria these peas are traditionally slow-braised or ground into a powder to make a type of polenta. They have an extraordinary depth of flavour, and the dried variety can be used anywhere you would use a high-quality dried bean. In this dish – perfect for serving over a piece of slowly braised meat – I have enhanced their flavour by braising them in an oxtail broth, though a meat-free version made with vegetable stock would also be delicious. Cold-smoking the oxtail is optional, though it does impart a lovely flavour.
Note: Both the soaking of the peas and the salting of the shiitake mushrooms for the fermented mushroom and black garlic purée need to be done a day in advance of cooking.
Fermented Mushroom and Black Garlic Purée
- 300 g (10-1/2 oz) shiitake mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 50 g (1-3/4 oz) unsalted butter
- 80 g (2-3/4 oz) diced shallot
- 20 g (3/4 oz/ 1-1/2 tablespoons) chopped inner celery stalk
- 10 fermented black garlic cloves, peeled
- 750 ml (25-1/2 fl oz/3 cups) Chicken Stock
- Slice the shiitake mushrooms and place in a vacuum-seal bag. Sprinkle over the salt, seal the bag, removing all the air, and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
- The next day, add the butter to a saucepan and sauté the shallots and celery until translucent. Remove the mushrooms from the bag and gently squeeze out any excess liquid, then add the mushrooms to the pan along with the garlic cloves and sauté for 1 minute. Pour over the chicken stock and simmer over a low heat until almost all the liquid has evaporated, then transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor or blender and blitz on high speed for 1 minute. Press the resulting purée through a fine-mesh sieve and refrigerate until needed.
Umbrian Wild Peas
- 300 g (10-1/2 oz) dried Umbrian wild peas, soaked in cold water overnight
- 30 g (1 oz) unsalted butter
- 30 g (1 oz/2 tablespoons) finely diced shallot
- 10 g (1/4 oz/1 tablespoon) finely diced garlic
- 750 ml (25-1/2 fl oz/3 cups) Oxtail Broth
Drain the soaked peas. Melt the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan, add the shallot and garlic and sauté until translucent. Stir in the drained peas, pour over the oxtail broth and simmer over a low heat for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, or until the peas are just tender to the bite but are still holding their shape.
Season the braised peas with salt and ground black pepper and top up with the remaining oxtail broth or water if necessary – there should be just enough liquid to serve as a sauce. Reheat the fermented mushroom and black garlic purée. Divide the peas among warmed serving bowls and top each with a spoonful of the purée.
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Cover courtesy of Hardie Grant Books
Excerpted with permission from From the Earth by Peter Gilmore, published by Hardie Grant Books October 2018, Hardcover RRP $60.00.