It’s rainy here in Northern California, the perfect time to go mushroom hunting. A friend and I took a walk around Mount Tamalpais last week, and found a selection of wild mushrooms. We are novices, and do our best to identify what we find, but we like our livers too much to dare eat anything.
Though last year I was fortunate to have a lion’s mane pop up in my front yard. After showing it to several mushroom experts, I brought it in the house and cooked it up. Delicate & delicious, these can often be found at Whole Foods and other specialty markets.
There are so many mushrooms available in the markets, though most often I go for the crimini, or baby portabellas. I love their flavor and versatility. I do keep various dried mushrooms on hand, they last forever, and add instant depth of flavor to savory dishes. One of my favorite breakfasts is sautéed mushrooms on toast. Jamie Oliver’s book Jamie at home has an excellent recipe that I base mine on.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 handfuls crimini and/or mixed wild mushrooms, wiped clean
2 cloves of garlic, 1 peeled and finely chopped, the other halved
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
A few sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
Kosher or coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 fresno red chili, minced
A small knob of butter
2 slices of pain au levain, or your favorite crusty bread
Put a large heavy frying pan, big enough to hold all the mushrooms in one layer, over heat and add a couple of glugs of extra virgin olive oil. Depending on the size of your mushrooms, leave any small ones whole but tear, break or slice the larger ones up. Add them all to the pan and give it a shake to toss the mushrooms in the oil.
Add the chopped garlic and thyme and shake the pan again. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and the minced chili and leave to fry gently for a few minutes. If the mixture becomes dry, pour in a little more oil.
Once the mushrooms have got some color going on, after about 3-4 minutes, add the butter and a small squeeze of lemon juice, you don’t need much — and toss again.
To finish this off and make it into a lovely, creamy sauce, spoon 2-3 tablespoons of water into the pan. Simmer for a little longer, until you have a lovely simple sauce that just loosely coats the mushrooms. Now toast your bread.
When toasted, rub the bread with the cut side of the remaining clove of garlic. Place each slice on a serving plate, pile the mushrooms and the creamy juices from the pan on top, and sprinkle with parsley. Eat immediately.