sautéed wild mushrooms
Updated: Tue, 20 October, 2020
Ceps or porcini or penny buns are the elite of wild mushrooms. Milkcaps, chanterelles and girolles – the middle stratum, and then there are pied de moutons aka hedgehog mushrooms and king oysters. But whatever mix you can forage or buy, they will be superior to cultivated mushrooms.
Wild mushroom paradise
I went to Munich one October a while ago and in the famous Viktualienmarkt I saw paradise. Stalls and stalls of wild mushrooms, there must have been a tonne of them.
There were beautiful ceps, white hedgehogs, sunny chanterelles, murky trumpets, milkcaps – I could have stayed and lived there. Right there in the market - at least until the end of the wild mushroom season.
Wild mushrooms are my food heaven
Of all things foraged, mushrooms are the best. I suspect I could just LIVE on wild mushrooms, or at least eat them every day, throwing in a scrap of meat or cheese every now and then.
Sadly, I can’t put it to the test as the wild mushrooms you can forage in England are very few and far between. Why, oh why we’re so deprived? Wild mushrooms are hard to come by.
Plenty inedible mushrooms
Apparently there are about 15,000 types of wild fungi in the UK but I have only ever come across the inedible ones; there are plenty of those springing up in my garden each autumn. The edible fungi in England are scarce and not the most noble; there are no ceps or morels, not even many native chanterelles.
Scotland fares better so every autumn I spend a small fortune on Scottish chanterelles, the only variety in relative abundance and one that survives transport. I get my fix. I treat them with respect – as little cooking as possible, not too much seasoning. Ceps (porcini or penny buns) are actually delicious sliced and eaten raw as a salad.
How to clean wild mushrooms?
This recipe features a mix of chanterelles and pied de moutons. Don’t wash them – if they soak up water they will become soggy and eventually shrink to nothing. Wild mushrooms are clean beasts with just a little soil on them or pines, or sand – no pesticides or nasty stuff on the wild things.
Cooking wild mushrooms: simply does it
Chop up the larger ones roughly or keep them all whole, whichever you prefer. They only need a little butter and when it foams, in they should go. ‘Sautéing’ means ‘jumping’ so the best way to stir the mushrooms is to toss them in the pan after a cheffy fashion. If that’s not your forte, stir them with a spatula.
They will release juice, or not – depending how wet the weather they grew in. You can’t ascribe a feature like this to polytunnel-grown strawberries, can you? If they are rather wet, wait till the juices are re-absorbed and then finish it off simply and elegantly: with just a touch of crème fraiche and a sprinkling of parsley.
sautéed wild mushroomsServings: 4Time: 20 minutes
- 400g wild mushrooms: chanterelles, pied de mouton (hedgehog mushrooms), morels, ceps (porcini), or a mix of any available
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- salt and black pepper
- a small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- a squeeze of lemon
- 1 tbsp. crème fraiche
1. Thoroughly clean the mushrooms with a soft brush and paper towels. If they’re very dirty and you need to wash them, try to dry them as much as possible on paper towels.
2. Slice the mushrooms roughly, as small or as thick as you like. Melt the butter in a pan, add the mushrooms, season well and toss in half the parsley. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
3. They will release some juices and when they absorb almost all back, stir in the crème fraiche. Let the crème cook for a minute, then take them off the heat, add the remaining parsley, a squeeze of lemon and serve.