Grant Achatz's roast mushrooms with caramelised fennel, onions, eggs and dates

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 8 people

"This dish is made to be a side for the braised lamb," says Achatz. "The dates pair with the dark cocoa notes in the main dish, and the aromatic cardamom-date combination takes it to the Middle Eastern cooking of tagines and curries. But really what you have is a deconstructed mushroom, onion and fennel omelette."

  • 4 fennel bulbs
  • 75 ml grapeseed oil
  • 1.5 kg mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, Swiss brown, maitake and oyster, cleaned, halved, quartered or whole, depending on size
  • 2 onions, each cut into sixths
  • 75 gm butter, diced
  • 20 gm thyme sprigs
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) white vinegar
  • 8 eggs
  • Finely chopped chives, to serve
  •  
  • Date vinaigrette
  • 70 gm medjool dates, pitted
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
01   For date vinaigrette, blend ingredients with 80ml water and ½ tsp sea salt in a blender on high speed until very smooth (4-5 minutes). Thin to drizzling consistency with a little extra water if necessary and season to taste. Vinaigrette will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.
02   Preheat oven to 175C. Trim the fronds from 3 fennel bulbs and reserve, then quarter the bulbs. Heat a roasting pan or very large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add oil, mushrooms, onion and fennel quarters, and cook without stirring for 3 minutes. Gently stir once and cook for another 3 minutes. Add butter, thyme and garlic, transfer to oven and cook, stirring twice, until mushrooms are just tender but with a little bite (8-10 minutes). Season to taste and keep warm.
03   Shave remaining fennel bulb on a mandolin and place in acidulated water (see note) to crisp.
04   Meanwhile, bring vinegar, 5 litres water and 2 tsp salt to a simmer in a large saucepan, stir vigorously to create a whirlpool, then crack eggs into the swirling water. Turn off heat, cover with a lid and stand for 6 minutes, then remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
05   Transfer roasted mushrooms to a large serving dish, nestle eggs on top, drizzle with a little date vinaigrette, top with shaved fennel, season to taste, then scatter with fennel fronds and chives, and serve with remaining date vinaigrette.
NoteFor acidulated water, add juice of half a lemon to 1 cup of water.
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