October is for knitted beanies and opaque tights, brisk walks and warm baths. It is also for wild mushrooms, given this is peak season in the UK.
Firstly, we don’t recommend foraging for mushrooms to eat unless you are supremely confident you know the difference between poisonous and edible. One lapse of judgement can have very unpleasant results indeed. If you don’t know your Satan’s Bolete from you Shiitake, we recommend popping down to a good supermarket or deli, both of which should have a wide range of delicious and safe wild mushrooms.
There are lots of different types of wild mushroom from all over the world. Some of the most popular and flavoursome are perhaps Porcini, Oyster, Shiitake, Golden Enoki, Maitake and Chanterelle. Many have exotic shapes and a deeper flavour than trusty ‘normal’ mushrooms with their domed backs and simple composition.
Here we recommend five delicious things to do with wild mushrooms.
1. Put them on toast (or noodles!)
Mushrooms sautéed in a little garlicky butter and scattered on toast with a little pepper and is one of life’s great pleasures, not least because it can be eaten any time. Starters, snacks, simple suppers – there’s room at the table!
There’s really nothing more to mushrooms on toast than described above, but if you want to make it a more sophisticated situation then we recommend adding crumbled goats cheese and some pinches of thyme.
A variation on this – which means it’s no longer even mushrooms on toast, but no less simple or delicious - is to add some soy sauce to the garlicky mushrooms and substitute the toast for some thick rice noodles. Sprinkle with coriander for an uncomplicated Asian-inspired feast.
2. Pop them in a pie
Sometimes life just calls for pie – and mushrooms are a brilliant filler, particularly when paired with tender organic chicken breast, tarragon and thyme. The Hairy Bikers make a mouth-wateringly good version which calls for homemade pastry. If the idea of making your own pastry fills you with dread – don’t worry, buy some JusRoll, hide the packaging at the bottom of your recycling bin and accept compliments on the lightness of your pastry with a gracious nod.
3. Include them in a risotto
It’s hard to think of a more comforting meal than a creamy wild mushroom risotto. We can’t recommend a better recipe than this from one of Blanche Vaughan’s old allotment blogs.
We do have a tip for risotto – keep the stock piping hot. Adding stock which is much cooler than the cooking rice is a recipe for, well, if not disaster, than substandard risotto!
4. Layer them up inside a lasagne
Taken from Anna Jones’ fabulous Modern Cook’s Year, this recipe for mushroom and roast kale lasagne is the stuff of dreams but fairly easy to turn into a delicious reality.
We can guarantee there won’t be leftovers.
5. Blend them into a soup
There are a million ways to make mushroom soup but we recommend keeping it simple. You’ll need 400g of wild mushrooms, 500ml of chicken or veg stock (ideally the real deal but cubes will suffice), a generous handful of parsley, a brown onion and a couple of cloves of garlic.
Cook the mushrooms, chopped onion and garlic in salted butter (or if you’d like a vegan soup, olive oil) in a shallow pan. Take it off the heat and once cool, pop the pan’s contents into a blender, adding the parsley, and blitz. We like a bit of texture so we’d blitz for ten or so seconds but if you’d like a smooth soup, blend away. Add the mix to stock in a pan and stir well over a medium heat. Pour into bowls, season with pepper and serve with chunky bread and plenty of butter.
Now, which first?!