Panna cotta de trufa with bacon marmalade and a crisp biscuit

Since a panna cotta is really creamy, you can add different textures and flavours to your cream to make it more interesting. Like what? Peas, tomato,basil, mint.These have been my previous ideas, but I now wanted to take it a step further and make a new starter with mushrooms.Mushrooms I always feel have an autumnal feel about them, so what I wanted to create was a panna cotta with a more earthy taste.I had bought some Porcini mushrooms and I asked my Italian chef friend Fabio Zerbo if he had ever made a savoury pannacotta.His answer was NO, but when I told him my idea was to make a Porcini mushroom version of the Italian classic he suddenly became animated and suggested I should re-hydrate the mushrooms in the Spanish Brandy Luis Felipe.At €80 a bottle Fabio? Have a laugh, I dont think so. I loved the sheer indulgence of his idea and the concept of marrying the sweet creamy digestif with the earthy flavour of the porcini, but I had to consider budget and settled for a good quality dry sherry.Still keeping a happy union of Italian and Spanish.

THE TRICK:The sherry is what makes this something special.I think if the mushrooms had been re-hydrated just in warm water the recipe would fall short.Make sure the Porcini mushrooms are the best quality you can find.A little goes along way and so don´t be tempted to over egg the pudding, so to speak.The final result is a wonderful surprise and bears a resemblance to foie gras both in texture and taste,so much so that in hindsight the next time I serve it I will make extra fingers of toast enabling the recipients to spread it if they want.The bacon marmalade can be served on the side.
Panna cotta de trufa boletus or Porcini mushrooms

4 tablespoons of dry sherry 
15g dried mushrooms (porcini, trumpets of death ...)
1 tablespoon butter
250ml cream (35% fat)
a splash of soya sauce
2 sheets of gelatine (4g)
A splash of soya sauce In a shallow dish soak the dried mushrooms in warm sherry for 20 minutes.Drain the mushrooms, keeping the rehydration liquid, chop them finely and saute them briefly over high heat with the butter. In a small pan mix the cream and a couple of tablespoons of liquid from the mushrooms. Cook until it just starts to boil. Soften the gelatine sheets in cold water for 5-8 minutes.Drain the gelatine and add it to the cream off the heat along with the splash of soy sauce. Fill 5 x 80ml ramekins almost to the top and carefully add the sautéed mushrooms with a teaspoon till the mixture rises to the top of the ramekins Put in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

Bacon marmalade
this is a loose interpretation of Fabio´s bacon marmalade that I came to enjoy so much at LPA last year.

1 lb smoked bacon, sliced into small pieces (or use regular bacon and liquid smoke)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium brown onion, sliced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Tabasco sauce (according to taste and optional)
1 cup brewed coffee
1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
1⁄4 cup honey
black pepper
extra water

In a non stick pan, fry the bacon in batches until lightly browned and beginning to crisp.
Fry the onion and garlic in the rendered bacon fat on medium heat until translucent.
Transfer the bacon, onion and garlic into a heavy based cast iron pot and add the rest of the ingredients except for the water.
Simmer for 2 hours adding 1/4 of a cup of water every 25-30 minutes or so and stirring,taking care not to let the mixture dry out and catch on the bottom of the pan.
When ready, cool for about 15-20 minutes and then place in a food processor. Pulse for 2-3 seconds so that you leave some texture to the “jam” or of course you could keep whizzing and make it a smoother and more paste like.
When ready to serve Dip each ramekin into some warm water and run a knife around the edge to loosen.Invert the ramekin onto a serving plate and shake to release the panna cotta.Serve with crusty toast soldiers and the bacon marmalade on the side.


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