This is a very typical dish from my region: 'niscalos con patatas'. Niscalos are saffron milk mushrooms. They are delicious orange mushrooms that grow up in pine tree forests, especially amongst the 'pino albar' variety. The village close to mine, Pedrajas de San Esteban, produces most of the pine nuts for the country - or at least the non imported ones... - to the point that the whole area is called 'Land of Pineforests' or 'Tierra de Pinares". During the months of late October and early November that is how we spend our afternoons; wondering in the 'pinares' picking up 'niscalos'. If you get big ones you can just grill them ('a la plancha') with a touch of garlic. But if you get little ones the best way to eat them is with potatoes in a thick soup.
I bought the niscalos for this dish in the Fruteria Vazquez of Madrid as I was rushing to the airport from a meeting there. You can see the picture of the wonderful fruteria in our Instagram account (miriam-gonzalez-durantez). It is one of those traditional shops where (if it wasn't for the price) you could just buy it all in one go.
For this recipe you need:
- three tablespoons of olive oil
- half a green pepper (diced very thinly)
- a leek (chopped very thinly)
- 4 medium size potatoes (in bite-size chunks)
- a bay leaf
- a quarter of a teaspoon of parsley (chopped thinly)
- two cloves of garlic (chopped very thinly)
- 80 gr of ham (serrano of a similar variety chopped into small cubes)
- niscalos (as many as you can get, but around 500 gr for 5 people)
- water (around 700 ml)
- half a glass of white wine
The most important thing is to clean the niscalos really well as any bit of sand will just ruin the dish (and your teeth!)
In a deep pan heat the oil. Add the garlic, leek and free pepper and wait for 3-4- minutes (over medium heat) until the vegetables get soft. Then add the niscalos (if they are big just cut them into bite size chunks). Wait for another 2-3- minutes and add the potatoes. Let it all fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the paprika, parsley and ham. Then the bay leaf and after 2 minutes add the water (it should just barely cover the niscalos). When the water is boiling (you should see the bubbles) add the wine. Let it all simmer for 20 minutes and serve. This dish is better the day after you have cooked it.
and these are the niscalos: