Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

The magic of mushrooms


At the risk of this sounding like personal ad… I’d love to meet someone who knows about wild mushrooms. GSOH is obviously essential.

Being a certified mushroom greedy-gut, I once bought a book on wild mushrooms, ‘The Mushroom Picker’s Foolproof Field Guide’ by Peter Jordan. Whilst the book itself is great, great photos and great descriptions, I soon discovered there was also great potential for this fool to mushroom pick his way into hospital. Basically, picking wild mushrooms is a mine-field! The scope for scooping up the wrong ‘shroom thinking you’ve got the right ‘shroom and then cooking up said poisonous morsel at home is a one way ticket to certain death (or at the very least considerable discomfort and/or kidney failure).

As much useful information as I gleaned from the book, it was all too apparent that there’s no substitute for first hand experience, hence the need for a mushroom guru.

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In the absence of said guru, I habitually have to make do with picking up my mushrooms in supermarkets, which is fine and dandy but I can’t help but think I’m missing out on the ‘wild’ aspect of things.

This recipe is a great way with mushrooms and you can use just about whatever kind you can find, in the supermarket or otherwise. Most of the time I’m using chestnut mushrooms as they have more of a flavour than their white button counterparts. A couple of big portobellos would also work nicely but if you’re picking wild field mushrooms, fair play to you.

Creamed chestnut mushrooms on toast with bacon is also one of those meals which is good at any time of the day. It might be a bit labour intensive for breakfast but as a brunch on a Saturday morning it’s almost unbeatable. These proportions are good enough for two.

INGREDIENTS
• 150g of bacon lardons pr pancetta
• 1 garlic clove
• one punnet of chestnut ‘shrooms (300g or thereabouts), sliced
• knob of butter
• half a tsp of smoked paprika
• 4 tbsps of creme fraiche
• two slices of granary bread (or whatever bread you fancy) for toasting
• salt and pepper
• handful of watercress (optional)

THE PLAN    
Start by frying the lardons in a dry frying pan, until nearing crispiness. Dump in the butter and the mushrooms. Fry these for two or three minutes until the ‘shrooms loose a bit of their rawness and then add the garlic and sprinkle on the paprika.

Give it another minute stir frying and then add the creme fraiche. Stir it all up, add a grinding of black pepper and a touch of salt (remember the bacon will be salty to go easy).
Toast up and butter your bread of choice and then pile high with the creamy ‘shrooms and a handful of watercress if using.

So if you’re out there mushroom guru, if you fancy imparting your knowledge onto a greedy-gut, I’ll happily tag along. I’ll even cook up the bounty.

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