Monday, 16 November 2009
Wild mushrooms and leftover chicken
Yesterday was a lovely day. We broke our mushroom hunting duck with a little help from some friends (well, an awful lot of help if the truth be told) Adam and I have shied away from mushroom collecting in the past mainly down to our inherent reluctance to poison the family. If you flick through a mushroom identification book almost every edible mushroom seems to carry the caveat "Not to be confused with the deadly poisonous (but almost identical) Stinking Hornbeam of Death!" - or similar (though, ironically the black Trumpet of Death fungus is actually edible). But some friends who have a history of wild mushroom gathering and subsequently clinging to life invited us along on their forage so we decided to give it a go.
It was, apparently, ideal mushroom gathering weather, bright and warm after a period of rain. You'll be relieved to hear we didn't eat the Fly Agaric pictured but what we did find were a large patch of Boletus something-or-other, closely related to ceps but not quite ceps. It was a hugely rewarding and rather exciting experience. It's totally different to gathering wild fruit as once you know where a fruit tree is you can reliably go back year after year and be sure that, weather conditions permitting, you'll have a crop of fruit. Mushrooms are way more random in that, you can identify a likely environment, you may know there's a history of mushrooms in that area, but you still can't be sure where the damn things are! You need to rummage around in the leaf litter (where they're very well camouflaged) and it's down to sheer luck whether you find what you're looking for or not.
We adults got rather over excited and raced around the bracken patch like loons once we found our Boletus. Even the children got quite carried away, screeching "Mushroom!" every time they found one though they were under strict instructions not to touch any themselves.
I think the main benefit for Adam and I was the confidence building. We've ordered ourselves a field guide to mushrooms and will happily have another go at mushroom foraging under our own steam. Here's how I used some of our box of mushrooms:
Leftover chicken and wild mushroom pie.
200g chopped mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
300g leftover cooked chicken
200ml chicken stock
Thyme (fresh or dried)
1 medium potato
Melt 50g of the butter, add the mushrooms and garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook over a medium heat until all their liquid is released, then turn the heat up to boil the liquid off. Add the cooked chicken.
In a separate pan, melt the rest of the butter then add the flour to make a roux. Pour in the chicken stock and whisk to form a smooth sauce. Pour over the chicken and mushroom mixture, add the thyme and some seasoning and mix. Put into an ovenproof dish. Slice the potato thinly and layer over the top in a hotpot fashion and dot with butter.
Bake at Gas Mark 6 for about 30 mins or until the potato is golden on top and the filling heated through.