Columbus Day weekend was perfect in the Northeast. Warm–even flirting with hot–with brilliant, clear skies and a gentle breeze, southern Vermont was a giant sensurround postcard of rural charm and autumnal magnificence. And all the rain has turned the woods into a cornucopia of fungi.
On a day hike, we discovered a huge bunch of oyster mushrooms. I was excited, and dutifully checked my Audubon mushroom app to confirm. We also went and got a second opinion from a seasoned forager, which is always a good idea. Don’t mess around with mushrooms, even easy ones like these. All told, the haul was at least a couple of pounds of immaculate, firm, elephantine lobes. I trimmed them and washed the little scurrying bugs out of the gills when we got back to the house. Please to excuse the horrible phone pictures.
What to do with them? I got some bacon going in a pan, then added sliced mushrooms once some fat had rendered off. Low and slow, they gave off their liquid and then began to brown. The kitchen smelled seriously excellent. I flipped them from time to time to get good caramelization all around, then added some shredded mizuna and a jellied puck of turkey gravy left over from the night before and tossed it all together to coat it with savory, unctious splendor.
We ate this with some oxtail stew I had made earlier, and which I’ll post about if those pictures are worth looking at. But the mushrooms stole the show. When they’re this big, they’re superbly meaty, offering dense texture and lots of umami. The gravy coating didn’t hurt, either.