On most of my late summer, early autumn trips to the farmers’ market, I come home with a brown paper bag filled with wild mushrooms. I mostly choose chanterelles – they’re plentiful and much less expensive than they ever were in the UK – and I like to eat them very simply, sautéed with butter and garlic and served, seasoned, on toast, or else in a risotto, should I fancy the soothing task of stirring slowly plumping rice. On days when I feel the need for something a little more luxurious for dinner, or if I’m cooking for my in-laws, I like to roll out one another of my favourite German recipes: Schweinemedaillons mit Pilzrahmsoße, or medallions of pork in a wild mushroom cream sauce. Traditionally served with a mound of Spätzle, it makes for a wonderfully comforting meal on a chilly autumn night.
This is a straightforward enough recipe, but it’s one that’s taken me a few attempts to get just right. Traditional German variations of the dish often use herbs such as marjoram or thyme, or involve spring onions, paprika or even tomato purée, all of which I think overcomplicate a dish that should be all about the very main ingredients – the pork and the seasonal mushrooms. In terms of taste, it really makes all the difference to buy high welfare pork from your local butcher rather than a cheap packet of meat from the supermarket, and although you can really use any kind of mushrooms in the sauce, wild ones add a depth of earthy, almost nutty flavour. The very traditional German recipes also usually add meat or vegetable stock, which I find makes the sauce far too runny: I prefer a sauce that’s a little more manageable on the plate (though I’m guaranteed to spill some of the sauce on my way to the table regardless). Having fiddled around with various ingredients over time, the recipe I’m sharing here is the version that I like best of all – and the one that got a proper stamp of approval from my husband.
If you’re using wild mushrooms for this dish, do spend a bit of time carefully brushing all the dirt off them – I use a pastry brush: no one likes a mouthful of grit in their dinner.
Schweinemedaillons mit Pfifferlingerahmsoße
Ingredients (serves 2)
300g pork loin (Schweinelende), sliced into 3cm thick medallions
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
200g chanterelle (or other wild) mushrooms, dirt removed and any larger ones sliced in two
1 small glass of dry white wine
150ml single cream (Schlagsahne)
A small bunch of parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
Melt the butter on a medium-high heat in a wide, non-stick pan with a small drizzle of olive oil (to stop the butter burning). Season the meat well and sear it in the butter and oil on both sides for 3-4 minutes before removing it from the pan and setting it to one side.
Lower the heat a little, add the chopped onion and cook slowly, stirring from time to time, until the onion is soft, translucent and beginning to turn golden at the edges. Turn the heat up again, add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes until they are well coated in the oniony butter.
Add a generous splash of wine to the pan and allow it to bubble and reduce till it’s almost disappeared. Pour in the cream and cook on a medium heat until the sauce thickens, then stir in the parsley – reserving a little to garnish the final dish – return the pork to the pan and cook for another 4 minutes, until the pork is just cooked through. Taste the sauce and season with more salt and/or pepper if necessary, and serve immediately.
This dish is traditionally served alongside Spätzle or ribbon noodles such as tagliatelle or pappardelle, however since I haven’t yet perfected a gluten-free version of either, we dish it up with mashed potatoes or brown rice and green beans – and absolutely delicious it is too.