More Puffball

I was taking pictures at Fish & Game on Sunday, and they had a giant puffball in the kitchen that they were running as a bar snack: brushed with olive oil, grilled, and served with lamb sausage and a scallion-chili salad. Zak gave me a couple of slices to take home, because as I ate one of the soft, slick slices it occurred to me that the mushroom could out-wonder Wonder bread as a grilled cheese substrate.

And it did. Buttered, salted, and pressed down in the iron skillet for a few minutes on each side, with some good cheddar and a scrape of mustard within, the sandwich browned up superbly. With a dusting of last summer’s smoked paprika/Espelette combination on top, it attained greatness, a perfect afternoon snack: texturally kid’s food, flavor-wise adult and sophisticated.

Sadly, the mushroom foraging hike I also led that afternoon did not turn up more than one tiny puffball, but I’m going to see if I can’t get some more. This is a winning idea, and could go a million different ways. Dark chocolate and pumpkin seed oil would be incredible, especially with a little cinnamon and coffee thrown in. Every possible variation on the croque theme would kill, as would pretty much any panino combination.

If anyone in the area finds one of these, hit me up.

4 comments to More Puffball

  • Fascinating idea! I used to love puffballs when I lived back east.

  • Rachel(S[d]OC)

    So I admit I had no idea what you meant by “puffball” at the beginning of this post. Consider me more educated now.

    Don’t despair you never found any. Mushrooms are tricky little fungi. My brother resides in what was once my grandparents’ house, and it is shaded by two giant oak trees. A few years ago for the first time in of those years my family has lived by those ancient oaks, a bumper crop of hen of the woods mushrooms sprouted on both trees. My brother often found people sneaking onto his property with plastic bags and guilty looks. For one season he had more mushrooms than he could handle, and then they never returned. It seems they need very specific conditions to grow and thrive.

    Would it be wrong to consider portobello grilled cheese if puffballs don’t make an appearance? I’m seriously considering it myself.

  • Rachel, it may be that the guilty harvesters took all the fruiting bodies of the mushrooms (the part that is above ground) and that’s why they never came again. One must leave some to spread their spores, a truth that many foragers forget or don’t know. Never take the last one of anything and be sure to check before you take one that there are more close by!

  • EL

    They’re also great in scrambled eggs (if all that you can find are small ones). We used to gather them in large quantities along with boletes.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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