This recipe came about when one of my longtime waiters saw me eating mashed potatoes after the lunch service one day and asked if I wanted to add some cheese. It sounded like a good idea, so I asked him to bring me some porcini and fresh pepper, too. This remains one of my favorite vegetarian dishes.
2 pounds/900 grams Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup/225ml whole milk
4 tablespoons/110g (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
16 fresh basil leaves
4 large fresh Porcini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup/110g thinly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt
Black peppercorns, ready to be freshly ground
Fill a pot large enough to hold the potatoes with water. Salt the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Place the potatoes in the boiling water and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until tender. (Test for doneness by inserting a sharp, thin-bladed knife into one of the potatoes.) Drain the potatoes and allow them to cool.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skins using a pairing knife. Pass the potatoes through a ricer or mash them with a masher, being careful not to overwork them. Set the potatoes aside in a large (preferably stainless steel) bowl.
Pour the milk into a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as it boils, carefully pour the milk over the potatoes. Add the butter, season with salt and pepper, and carefully stir with a wooden spoon until a purée is formed. Taste and adjust the seasoning to taste as necessary.
Divide the purée among 4 small plates, forming a mound in the center of each plate. Stick 4 basil leaves into each mound of potato purée so that they stand up, and do the same with the sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle each mound of potato purée with ¼ cup of shaved Parmigiano, and then drizzle each with a little bit of the olive oil and grind some black pepper over them. (Work as quickly as possible so that the food is still hot when it gets to the table.) Serve immediately.
I recommend a white wine like Jermann’s Pinot Grigio to pair with this dish.
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