Sunday, 16 October 2011

Meat Shroom

When I was in university, I remembered a friend describing something they made for lunch while I was away from the flat. They took a bunch of portobello mushrooms, sliced out the stem, and stuffed the cap with pate before grilling. As the mushroom cooked, the pate absorbed the liquid exuded, enriching itself with mushroom flavour.

It was an idea that has lingered in the back of my mind even as my university friends graduated and left the country. When I came across a tray of Sainsbury's Basics mushrooms that were as large as their regular portobello mushrooms the memory came back and got me thinking about recreating this. The problem was that Sainsbury's did not have a Basics pate, although they used to. I was browsing mySupermarket in search of an alternative stuffing when I came across this.

This Basics meat paste contains 42% chicken and 26% beef and a whole bunch of miscellaneous fillers. From what I could see inside the bottle, its consistency is akin to that of pate. I saw a small range of other similar products at Sainsbury's while trying to get this from my local store, but am puzzled by what it could be used for. The first thing that crossed my mind was sandwich fillers, but the supermarket chain stocks a good range of sandwich fillers, deli meats, and yes, pate. What niche does this product fill? True, it has a very long shelf life, extending up to mid-2013, but once open it has to be consumed within 3 days, so longevity doesn't seem to be its appeal.The meat paste products are pretty cheap, costing 32p for Basics and 49p for regular own-brand, but only give you 3 servings per bottle. With modern refrigeration you might as well get proper pate.

If you are able to point out where in British cuisine this stands I would love to hear from you, so please put your thoughts in the comments.

Prepare the mushroom as shown above. Spread two teaspoons of the meat paste all over the inside of the mushroom before topping up with the stalk, chopped up, and sprinkling with Basics Grated Hard Cheese or whichever cheese you have available.

Bake or grill at 225 degrees for about 20 minutes.

The meat paste tasted exactly like pate, so it came in as a suitable substitute. Overall this was pretty enjoyable, and can make a good starter, or a light lunch. Also worth noting about this is that the meat paste only contains about 34 calories per tablespoon serving, and combined with the intrinsically low calorific nature of mushrooms, could be useful to those looking to cut down on their calorie intake.

The pescetarians amongst us might want to know that there is an equivalent Basics fish paste, though again, you might be better off buying pre-prepared tuna mayonnaise.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Meat Paste£0.3275g - about 3+£0.17Choice between chicken (pure chicken) and beef (37% beef and 33% chicken).

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