Such a good dish to eat, a joy to cook and a test of skills! For me it's rare for a dish to be so long in prep. You can simplify this by removing the chard or the white sauce, but I encourage you to make this delicious and classic sauce. The onion cloutie, studded with bay and clove, gives this humble and versatile sauce its edge. Don't rush it, take your time and enjoy beating the hot milk into the butter and flour.
A big handful of rainbow chard, washed and dried, roughly chopped
A shallot, peeled and finely chopped
2 bay leaves
A few sprigs of thyme
3 tablespoons organic olive oil
A splash of white wine
250ml double cream
500ml full fat milk
50g plain flour
1 small onion
4 cloves of garlic
4 large handfuls of baby spinach, washed and dried
4 field/ flat or Portobello mushrooms
A small handful of herbs you like, tarragon and parsley work well
A handful of breadcrumbs
A few chanterelle mushrooms
A knob of butter
Good salt and pepper
Firstly, prepare the chard. Sweat the shallot in a tablespoon of olive oil with a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme. Add the chard and cook on a medium heat until soft. Season. Next add the white wine to the pot and cover with a lid. Add a little water or stock if you prefer. Let the chard braise for about an hour. Remove the lid and allow some of the liquid to evaporate for a few minutes whilst keeping the heat on medium setting. Then add the cream, bring to the boil and reduce until a sauce consistency. Season to taste and leave to one side in a warm place.
Make an onion cloutie by attaching a bay leaf to the onion with the cloves. To make a white sauce, heat the milk with the onion cloutie. Be careful not to boil. In another pot, melt 50g of butter and stir in the flour until you achieve a texture like wet sand. Cook the flour through for a minute or two, but don't burn it. Keep it on a low heat and add the milk a little at a time, continuing to stir. When all milk has been added, you should have a rich, glossy sauce. Add the onion to the sauce and cover with a lid. Keep warm.
Clean the Portobello mushrooms with a wet cloth and season all over. Place them on a roasting tray and dot over with the remaining butter. Season again. Gently bash the garlic, and rip a few sprigs of thyme. Add these to the roasting tray and place in a hot oven (180°C) for 20 to 30 minutes until just soft. Remove from the oven (leave the oven on). Leave the mushroom on the try and keep warm.
To wilt the spinach, heat a little olive oil in a pot with the juices from the mushrooms. Cook the spinach until wilted and season.
Make a herb crumb by mixing the herbs with breadcrumbs in a food processor.
Top each mushroom with some spinach, then one or two tablespoons of white sauce, finished off with the herb crumb. Return to the oven and bake at 180°C for 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the knob of butter in a medium hot frying pan and cook the chanterelles for a couple of minutes, or until cooked.
To serve, place two tablespoons of the creamed chard on each plate and top with a Portobello mushroom. Arrange the chanterelle mushrooms in a circle around the plate.