Friday, 1 October 2010

Mmmm Mushrooms

It’s the first of October, and, as I write this, it is bleak outside.  Cold, wet, windy and dark.  Miserable.  One positive to be taken, as I gaze out of the window at the general grisliness, is that it’s great weather for mushrooms.  This is a bumper year for foraging, or so I’m told, as this is the first year I’ve really done it with any serious intent, and certainly each time we’ve been out this year we’ve returned laden with ceps and other boletes, parasols, oyster and horse mushrooms in such abundance it’s been a struggle to carry them all home.  Literally.  I suspect I’m going to be spoiled, and from now on any regular mushrooming year is going to feel like a great mushroom famine.
Once you have overcome the struggle to bring your mushrooms home, of course, the question becomes what to do with them?  To which the answer, as with all good ingredients, should properly be very little.  In my case, with the lady being allergic to dairy, even basic standards like omelettes and cream based sauces are ruled out, so basically it all comes down to sautéing them, and you know what?  I have no problem with that at all.  Why mess with something so plainly delicious?
Slice up a selection of your mushrooms and fry them in olive oil (or butter of course if neither you nor your loved one are allergic) with just salt and pepper, garlic and a handful of parsley.  Maybe add some shredded smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, and whack it on a slice of toast for breakfast.  Finely chop and sweat a couple of shallots in the pan first, and then add a glass of wine to turn it all into a rich sauce for tagliatelle or gnocchi, or to be served alongside a piece of good meat or fish just grilled or fried.  Keep it simple.  Don’t mess.
Seared hanger steak with new potatoes, runner beans and mmm mushrooms
Last month the lady and I spent a week in Suffolk.  We went on two woodland walks and the focus of the week became what we were next going to have with our mushrooms.  It was a very good week.

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