Wild ingredients can link you to time and place on a plate in ways far stronger than supermarket food. Here’s one example of doing exactly that.
If you're looking for mushroom recipes, especially wild mushroom recipes, you have come to the right place: This is my collection of nearly 75 recipes where mushrooms are the star, or where they play harmony with other ingredients.
Some are fancy, some simple. Most of these mushroom recipes can be made with regular ole' button mushrooms, or their brown cousins, the cremini; yes, they are the same mushroom, just grown differently.
The single best store-bought mushroom that matches the flavor intensity of wild mushrooms is the shiitake, so if you're into mushrooms buy that one.
Virtually all mushrooms must be cooked, because even fully edible ones need their cell walls broken down by cooking to be fully digestible, and some, like morel mushrooms, are actually toxic if eaten raw.
Many mushrooms contain so much internal water you will want to toss them in a dry pan and "dry fry" them until they start giving up that water. Only then do you add butter or oil.
Mushrooms, being earthy, love wild game, beef, duck and other dark meat poultry. But some, like the matsutake, the enoki and the common white button mushroom, do go very well with fish and white meats.
Always save the water from rehydrating dried mushrooms. It's full of flavor and, once strained of its debris, is great for soups, stews and cooking rice.
In general, multiply the weight of dried mushrooms by eight to get the equivalent weight of fresh. So 1/4 pound of dried porcini, for example, will be the equivalent of 2 pounds fresh.
Most mushrooms are best preserved by drying. This is not true for a few popular mushrooms, like chanterelles and chicken of the woods. These lose a lot when dried, and should be sautéed, then vacuum sealed and frozen.
I dehydrate my mushrooms in a dehydrator at about 110°F. You can put them on a rack in a hot garage, the back of your car in summer, or if you have to, a low oven. This is not ideal because you want to dry mushrooms, not cook them.
The next most common way to preserve mushrooms is to sauté them in butter or oil, with onions and garlic (or not), either in large pieces or as a classic French duxelle. You then cool, put in a vacuum bag, seal and freeze.
You can pickle mushrooms, too, and I am especially fond of pickled chanterelles. There's also a hybrid technique from Italy where you salt mushrooms to remove some liquid, then boil in vinegar, dry them a bit, then preserve in olive oil. I prefer this style of marinated mushrooms for porcini.
Finally, you can lacto-ferment mushrooms, which is a brine pickle. I do this primarily with saffron milk caps, but you can use lots of different mushrooms.
Gathering and Cooking Guides
These are guides to finding, safely identifying and cooking a few popular types of wild mushrooms.
Starting with chanterelles, which come out in summer in most of the United States, but in fall and winter in the Northwest. I wrote another article on yellowfoot chanterelles, a type of related mushroom.
Meadow mushrooms, Agaricus campestris, live all over, but they can be tricky to identify. Here's how.
Mushrooms of all kinds make for great sauces. Some of the best are the simplest, like a mushroom sauce for steak.
I also make a simple mushroom sauce that works well with fattier fish, like trout, salmon or mackerel.
Pasta and Rice
Soups and Stews
I have a range of soups and stews where mushrooms are either the star or a main player. Some of my favorites are a smooth chanterelle veloute, a wild mushroom bisque, a Spanish stew called chilindron, which uses lots of dried mushrooms, or a Russian stew with mushrooms, barley and a red meat like goose.
An easy Italian cross between an omelet and a quiche, this frittata is stuffed with wild mushrooms and wild spinach.
A classic Italian mushroom ragu, made with a variety of mushrooms, wild or cultivated. Serve this with polenta or pasta.
Jägerschnitzel is one of Germany’s best known dishes. Also spelled jaegerschnitzel, it means “hunter’s cutlets,” meat pounded thin and served with a mushroom sauce. Easy to make, and a great way to celebrate a successful hunt. Back in the 1800s, jägerschnitzel was originally made with venison or wild boar loin, pounded thin. It is now normally made
This is a simple roasted mushroom recipe that works with any meaty mushroom, from porcini to shiitake to regular button mushrooms.
Pheasant with mushrooms is a perfect combination of fall flavors, is easy to make and comes together in less than an hour. This is a homey recipe that brings together the classic combination of mushrooms, brandy, cream and chicken — only I use pheasant breasts here. Grouse, quail, partridge, rabbit or chicken also work. I
I started making mushroom ravioli many years ago, when I began seriously hunting mushrooms. These little parcels of love pack a ton of flavor, and are best served simply, with an herb or two, maybe some additional fresh mushrooms, and lots of butter or good olive oil. You’ll notice the pasta is brown. That’s because
A classic Polish hunter’s stew using whatever meats you have handy, from wild game to chicken and pork.