CrostataMay 16, 2010
The latest in my delving into Giada’s Kitchen – New Italian Favourites was the Crostata with Mushrooms and Pancetta.
A Crostata is a free-form pie or tart that can be served as either a savoury or a sweet, and since I’m trying to branch out into more savoury cooking this seemed to fit the bill!
The mushrooms I used were Shiitake & Buna Shimeji two varieties I’d seen and heard about but never eaten. So I thought since the recipe called for an assortment of mushrooms without being specific I’d do something a bit different. It was interesting to note that the Buna-Shimeji had a slightly bitter taste when it was raw that completely disappeared when it was cooked.
I also couldn’t get my hands on any Fontina cheese, which is a semi-soft cow’s milk Italian cheese. It comes only from the Valle d’Aosta in Italy, and a true fontina has an orange-brown rind. It’s meant to be a quite creamy cheese and very mild and smooth. I’m keeping my eyes out for one now to try, not having had any when in Italy and wanting to give it a go. I jumped onto trusty Google and looked for substitutes, and the suggestion was a Gruyere, which is also a semi-soft cheese, though with a texture that is a bit grainy – so not as smooth as the Fontina sounds. Though both are described as having a slightly nutty flavour, which I can attest to in the Gruyere finding that a lot easier to locate!
Crostata with Mushrooms & Pancetta
1.5 cups all purpose flour
½ t salt
3 T cold unsalted butter cut into chunks
½ cup mascarpone cheese
1.5 T lemon juice
3 T ice water
4 T olive oil
57g diced pancetta (I used bacon as its all I had on hand)
2 shallots, minced
450g assorted mushrooms
1 T chopped thyme
½ t salt
¼ t black pepper
1/3 cup grated smoked, mozzarella
1/3 cup grated fontina cheese
2 T fresh grated Parmesan
1 large egg for glaze
In a food processor combine the flour and salt, and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is finely chopped and the mix looks like coarse meal. Add the mascarpone and lemon juice and pulse a few more times & then pulse in the ice water until the mix is moist and crumbly but not a ball of dough. Turn it out onto some cling wrap and press into a disk. Wrap it up and put in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
Heat 2 T of olive oil in a large pan and add the pancetta cooking until crisp. Transfer this to a small bowl and set aside. Add the rest of the olive oil and cook the shallots for about 30 seconds and then add the mushrooms. Keep them cooking over a medium heat until all the moisture evaporates (about 12 minutes). Remove from the pan and add the pancetta along with the herbs. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to about 200C and unwrap the chilled dough and place it on some baking paper. Roll out the dough to an 11 inch circle and place this on a baking tray (on the baking paper, or another baking sheet). Stir the cheeses into the cooled mushrooms mixture. Place this on the centre of the dough, spreading out to about 2 inches from the edges. Fold the dough border up and glaze with egg. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes – or until golden. Slice and serve.