Sunday, 24 September 2017


I'm in a retro mood. Shirley Conran famously wrote in the mid-seventies that ‘Life is too short to stuff a mushroom’. I suppose if she were thinking along the same lines now she would suggest that life is too short to spiralise a courgette. Despite the Conran statement, the stuffed mushroom was a staple of the seventies and early eighties and I remember it very fondly.

What's that got to do with galipettes? Well, if you order ‘galipettes’ from a French menu, then expect stuffed mushrooms to arrive on your plate. The word ‘galipette’ actually means ‘somersault’ and either refers to the fact that the mushroom is turned upside down to be eaten or that the mushrooms are so large that they start to fall over of their own accord. I've been given both explanations and I've no idea what's correct, so take your pick.

British mushrooms of the 1970s were usually stuffed with garlic butter and breadcrumbs but in France galipettes can also be stuffed with goat’s cheese or snail butter and sometimes with a combination of rillettes, cheese and butter, especially if you happen to be near the Loire. I probably don't need to add that they can be very rich. I prefer to make a simpler Loire version and now that pork rillettes are widely available in this country, why not revive the 1970s? Despite the Conran admonition, this is a very simple and quick dish to put together and makes a fine, retro starter or lunch dish if combined with some decent, crusty bread and a few salad leaves. Smaller mushrooms will work very well as savoury bites with an aperitif but they are a bit messy, so be prepared to hose down your guests after eating.
It's difficult to be precise about amounts for this recipe because so much depends on the size of your mushrooms, but allow around 50 g of pork rillettes to fill one large portobello mushroom (unless you want a LOT of filling) and scale up as appropriate. This really isn't a recipe that demands too much precision.

Make sure the mushrooms are clean, remove the stalks with a small knife or by snapping them off if the mushroom is cooperative in that way. Mix the rillettes with a little fresh thyme if you fancy and spread the rillettes gently and evenly into the cup of the mushroom. Grate over a little lemon zest, add a grind or two of pepper and top with some panko breadcrumbs. (I can’t recall ever coming across a crust of panko breadcrumbs on mushrooms in France, but I love the panko crunch).

Put the mushrooms on a baking tray in the oven at 180ÂșC for around 20 minutes for large mushrooms or until they're tender and oozing.

Of course, you could be much more industrious and make your own rillettes if you can't find any in the shops. There's a very fine recipe by the always excellent Simon Hopkinson here if you want to try. I don't think that's life's too short to make rillettes but I do think that unfortunately it's very often too busy these days.