Easter and Anzac day in Victoria are good times to collect wild mushrooms.
I am amazed at how popular slippery jacks and the saffron coloured mushrooms have become over the last few years. I have seen them in greengrocers and a number of stalls at the market and they are certainly appearing on many restaurant menus.
I was at a restaurant in Bendigo a couple of days ago and their special was a plate of ‘Tagliolini with wild mushrooms’ (Photo above).
There is a recipe for a pasta sauce using wild mushrooms already in the blog: WILD MUSHROOMS – Saffron Coloured, Pine Mushrooms and Slippery Jacks – it is worth referring to this recipe again for the photos (so that you will recognize them if you go foreging) and the recipe for a very flavourful sauce that contains many more ingredients than the one in Bendigo (the rest of the food and the wine list at this restaurant were great!)
Another favourite recipe for cooking wild mushrooms when I have them is one that has anchovies. On some occasions I have used field mushrooms (photo below) and/or other cultivated mushrooms: a mixture of Oyster mushrooms and Shimeji (grown in the Blue Mountains in NSW) and brown mushrooms.
Look at any of the recipes of how mushrooms are cooked in any Mediterranean country and you will find very little variation: they are sautéed in oil with garlic or onion and deglazed with a little white wine. In Spain sherry is frequently used instead of wine. Sometimes a splash of lemon juice is used or there may be different herbs; in French recipes butter might replace the oil and perhaps the sauce is finished off with some cream.
This is the recipe that gave me ideas about using anchovies; I found it in The Book of Tapas by Simone and Inés Ortega: Fricasse de Setas con Anchoas (Wild Mushroom and Anchovy Fricassee). And this is how I cooked my latest batch of mushrooms recently and this is what the finished dish looked like:
I selected a very large heavy based frying pan and very high heat to start with. I began with only a handful of mushrooms at a time to limit moisture, I wanted the mushrooms to sauté rather than be boiled in their own juices. I stirred the mushrooms continuously to prevent burning and encourage them to caramelize.
I only added about ¼ cup of stock and cooked the mushrooms for about 7-10 minutes on medium heat (definitely not 25 mins) and in the whole time of cooking did not use a lid.
I added a squeeze of lemon juice before I took them to the table – it went well because of the anchovies. They tasted great. I am not saying that the recipe for Wild Mushroom and Anchovy Fricassee as it is in the book would not work, but merely that we all have our way of personalizing recipes.
The recipe from The Book of Tapas by Simone and Inés Ortega:
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 ¼ pounds porcini or other wild mushrooms, cleaned and cut into large pieces
12 canned anchovy fillets, drained
2 cloves garlic
1 cup stock (chicken, beef or vegetable)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
pepper, to taste
Heat the oil in a flameproof earthenware casserole or a large skillet or frying pan, add the mushrooms and pan-fry over low heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put the anchovies and garlic in a large mortar and crush them to a paste.
Stir the stock and the contents of the mortar into the mushrooms and season with pepper. Cover the pan and let simmer over low heat for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the parsley into the pan, re-cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot, either in a serving dish or on small plates.
Also see: FUNGHI AL FUNGHETTO