Here in the north of Scotland there seems to be a far lower percentage of customers who are vegetarian than we were used to down south. Indeed, given the suspicious looks that the likes of the baby courgettes attract, one would think that some were mildly allergic to anything green. I decided on a mushroom dish for the vegetarian option, because it has the benefit of being adaptable to the regular menu by the judicious addition of smoked duck breast. Here is the regular version - if need be, just omit the duck breast and replace the goose fat with olive oil.
Potato gnocchi with chestnut mushrooms and smoked duck breast
1. First prepare the gnocchi. Peel the potatoes and cook in boiling salted water until tender. Mash thoroughly, then beat in the egg, flour and nutmeg and season with a little salt and pepper. While still warm shape the mixture into 28 small ovals. Reserve.
2. Cut any of the larger mushrooms in half and cook all the mushrooms gently, submerged in the goose fat for about 35 minutes over a low heat until completely tender. Drain the mushrooms well in a sieve and place in a fresh saucepan. Now add the vegetable or chicken stock and bring to the simmer.
3. Slice the duck breast into thin strips. Take the mushrooms off the heat, add the duck and the grated parmesan and stir to combine. At the last moment stir in the chopped parsley.
4. Meanwhile bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and toss in the gnocchi. Once they rise back to the surface they are cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and divide between four soup plates. Spoon the mushroom, duck and parsley mixture over and serve at once.
For four people
500g Desiree or King Edward potatoes
One large egg
120g plain flour
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g chestnut mushrooms
250g goose fat or olive oil
100ml vegetable or chicken stock
100g finely sliced smoked duck breast
50g parmesan cheese, freshly grated
One small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
AND FOR THE WINE ...
The rich earthiness of this dish requires something to balance the weight but it is important not to go for anything too heavy that risks swamping the flavour.
Elegusto Wines selects the following wines from its cellars to accompany this dish:
Gamay Dumas (£5.90) This is a light easy-drinking wine, which would match this dish perfectly.
Redcurrants and raspberries are evident in this wine, with none of the bubblegum aroma so often overpowering in Gamay wines, yet with a rather interesting quality.
Brokenwood 'Forest Edge' Chardonnay (£12.95)
If you fancy a white it needs to be something with a reasonable amount of body. This one is a barrel fermented, rounded and toasty Chardonnay.
It is a well integrated and balanced wine, shows rich tropical fruit with hints of almonds, is rich and intense and lasting in the mouth.
To buy or learn more about these wines click onto the GP Life club area of the Elegusto website at www.elegusto.co.uk/gp
- Dr Duckham is a GP in Tongue and Armadale, Sutherland, and runs Restaurant Cote du Nord, Farr Bay Inn, Sutherland.
E-mail comments or queries to GPcolumnists@haynet.com.