Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Umami Dearest

Last week, while I was making some new plates at the ceramics studio the owner showed me some of the amazing variety of mushrooms that are growing on her property. I am very, very far from qualified to ID fungi, but black trumpets are an easy spot and she has a couple of big, fat patches growing on the sites of long-ago cut hardwood stumps. In exchange for my eye, and for a follow-up email to a good mycologist friend in Boston, she let me come back with a basket and gather a bunch.

They're delicate, but can handle a gentle rinse; if you pinch off the narrow end the faucet will quickly force any critters and crud through the funnel and leave them ready to cook or dry. I did both, setting aside some nice ones for dinner and putting the rest on a rack over a cookie sheet in a 180˚ oven with the door propped open a bit for a couple of hours. First I let all of them dry off a bit on a towel.

They cook down pretty seriously, losing a lot of volume as they cough up their moisture. But man, are they good. Easily one of the mushroomiest-tasting varieties, and striking in their inky contrast to most colors of food. In this case, I spooned the mushrooms (given a quick sautée with garlic, parsley, and wine) over the top of "risotto" made from the local, organic 10-grain mix we like so much (and which does not include rice, so it's really a dense and toothsome porridge) with a big bowl of freshly-shelled peas stirred in near the end. I made it with the last container of frozen chicken broth, the use of which coincided perfectly with my acquisition of a duck from the farmers' market in town; smoked poultry broth will shortly be back in rotation.

To complete the complete meal, another of the wondrous ragouts de jardin- in this instance the last favas, broccoli florets, baby fennel and celery, garlic, carrots (4 colors) and scallions- quickly sautéed and deglazed with a spoon of the smoked broth and a splash of Mas de Gourgonnier rosé. It was our last bottle, so I'll have to head out and get more for all of the WARM, SUNNY WEATHER that we will totally be having in the coming weeks.


Linsey said...

Obscenely jealous. Have been hiking around eastern MA a lot and have been disappointed by the lack of funghi growing along (and just outside of) trails. This time last year I was harvesting oyster mushrooms from a dead tree in my chicago alley. This year, zip.

The Spiteful Chef said...

If I tried to do that, I would die. Plain and simple. But props to you for finding something so fantastic just growing out all normal-like. Nice usage, too, although WTF kind of risotto was that? It looks all mutant and non-arborial. Probably delicious, but mutant and non-arborial all the same.

peter said...

Linsey: With all the rain, I bet you'll find something soon.

Kristie: It's 10 whole, local, organic grains: millet, rye, winter wheat, oats, triticale, barley, spelt, corn, flax and vetch.

Zoomie said...

Another great title!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Well, at least mushrooms will be lasting in your weather.

This is one of my favorite vendors right now at our market:

We've had some amazing varieties of both oyster and trumpet mushrooms.

Brooke said...

That looks delicious, as always. Nice foraging score too. I have not yet been brave enough to harvest the fungi I find when hiking. Dunno why, aside from being a complete pansy.

Heather said...

I, too, am jealous. I'd beat the shit out of somebody with a wire hanger for a basket of those.

The shaggy parasols I found in my yard turned out to be a toxic variety, so it's a good thing I didn't eat them.

cookiecrumb said...

Peter. Psst, hey, Peter. You still alive?

peter said...

Zoomie: Shucks.

Jen: Those look great- we have some people who sell shiitake and oyster at our weekly market.

Brooke: You're not a pansy- it's serious business. Go with someone who knows his/her shit.

Blanche: Good thing. Maybe you could beat someone up with them instead.

CC: Very much so. You should SMELL the jar of dried ones.