Last week, while I was making some new plates at the ceramics studio the owner showed me some of the amazing variety of mushrooms that are growing on her property. I am very, very far from qualified to ID fungi, but black trumpets are an easy spot and she has a couple of big, fat patches growing on the sites of long-ago cut hardwood stumps. In exchange for my eye, and for a follow-up email to a good mycologist friend in Boston, she let me come back with a basket and gather a bunch.
They’re delicate, but can handle a gentle rinse; if you pinch off the narrow end the faucet will quickly force any critters and crud through the funnel and leave them ready to cook or dry. I did both, setting aside some nice ones for dinner and putting the rest on a rack over a cookie sheet in a 180˚ oven with the door propped open a bit for a couple of hours. First I let all of them dry off a bit on a towel.
They cook down pretty seriously, losing a lot of volume as they cough up their moisture. But man, are they good. Easily one of the mushroomiest-tasting varieties, and striking in their inky contrast to most colors of food. In this case, I spooned the mushrooms (given a quick sautée with garlic, parsley, and wine) over the top of “risotto” made from the local, organic 10-grain mix we like so much (and which does not include rice, so it’s really a dense and toothsome porridge) with a big bowl of freshly-shelled peas stirred in near the end. I made it with the last container of frozen chicken broth, the use of which coincided perfectly with my acquisition of a duck from the farmers’ market in town; smoked poultry broth will shortly be back in rotation.
To complete the complete meal, another of the wondrous ragouts de jardin– in this instance the last favas, broccoli florets, baby fennel and celery, garlic, carrots (4 colors) and scallions- quickly sautéed and deglazed with a spoon of the smoked broth and a splash of Mas de Gourgonnier rosé. It was our last bottle, so I’ll have to head out and get more for all of the WARM, SUNNY WEATHER that we will totally be having in the coming weeks.