Saturday, October 29, 2011

Foraging For Real Mushrooms

Fig.1. The cool dude holding one porcini is Adriano.  The dorky one holding two is some guy we met in the woods and claimed to need a friend.  He's still following us.

Ask any mycophagist and they’ll tell you this was a great year to forage for mushrooms.  Chanterelles and porcinis were especially in abundance due to the damp, humid mornings, and wet nights.
Found so many mushrooms this year in fact, that after the freezer was filled to the door with porcinis, we had to dry the rest. 

Fig.2. Out of the freezer and lying in a row.

Porcini mushrooms, when fresh, are a real culinary treat.  Unlike the tough nature of the dried variety that requires re-hydrating however, fresh porcini are meaty, juicy, and overflow with fungal flavor.  The best way to eat fresh porcini mushrooms is to simply sauté them in some good olive oil and garlic, and add a pinch of sea salt to them once cooked.  You can also get creative should the mood strike you, as I did below.

Porcini Pizza

Fig.3. It's a pizza, but this one is all about the mushrooms

If you’re not up to making your own dough, just go to a good boulangerie and pick it up there.  This is a pizza “in bianco” so no tomatoes here, as they will take away from the flavor of the porcini.  Don’t skimp on the olive oil or your pizza will be dry.


Good quality olive oil
4 cloves garlic, whole and crushed
12 to 15 porcini mushrooms, sliced to app. 1/4 inch  (if you don’t have porcini, use oyster, king, chanterelle, Portobello or even all of them.  There are many different mushrooms hailing from Quebec available at your supermarket right now.)
a pinch of chili flakes (optional)
sea salt
Pizza Dough
1/2 cup mozzarella di buffala, grated
Grated Parmiggiano cheese


Preheat oven to 450 degreesF
Pour some olive oil into a large non-stick pan set over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, add the mushrooms, chili flakes and cook until softened, about 8 minutes.  Remove the mushrooms from the heat, season with sea salt and set aside.

Knead out your pizza (shape is up to you) in a non-stick pizza-pan coated with enough olive oil to prevent sticking.  Drizzle the top of the pizza with olive oil and sea salt, and place in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until outer parts of the dough begin to firm up.  At this point, remove dough from the oven and add the grated mozzarella (make sure it's drained properly and not watery), and dress with the mushrooms. (but not the garlic, unless you want to)
Return pizza to oven and cook until dough is cooked through, about 10 to 12 more minutes.  Top with freshly grated pamigianno cheese and eat immediately.

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