You probably know how tricky it can be to eat wild mushrooms — up to and including the point where you become ill, or deceased. For example, a friend of ours recently spent the entire night being sick after eating wild mushrooms with eggs, prepared by one of her neighbours.
On the other hand, the safe wild mushrooms can be really quite good, so my wife Jan jumped at the chance to go mushroom-hunting on Thursday afternoon. She went with a friend of ours who has good local knowledge, not only about where to find the fungi, but which ones to pick.
And when Jan returned home, she had a nice haul — some big meaty cèpes (porcini), perfect-looking girolles (chanterelles), and several lovely little pied de mouton mushrooms (hedgehog mushrooms in English). Her next step was to wash them, and set them out to dry on paper towels.
Thoughts on mushroom-cleaning: We should get this out of the way right now — do you or don’t you wash mushrooms? The usual advice is don’t wash; just wipe them a bit with a damp cloth or a brush. Personally, I think that’s fine if you’re dealing with domestic mushrooms, the kind you’d buy in most stores. But for wild mushrooms, I think it makes sense to wash them. A specialty-foods dealer in Toronto, from whom we used to buy wild Canadian mushrooms, put it this way: “Do you think that a bear who stops to have a pee in the woods is going to care if he’s peeing on some mushrooms?” Made sense to me.
So Jan carefully washed and trimmed the three kinds of mushrooms, which you’ll see below:
The big ones — the cèpes — were eventually bagged and put in the freezer, where they should keep quite well. The two smaller varieties were saved for breakfast this morning, and here’s how it went as Jan made a delicious mushroom omelette.
First she sautéed the girolles and pied de mouton mushrooms in butter, like this:
Then, after cooking a few beaten eggs until they were almost done, she placed the cooked mushrooms along the centre of the mixture, like this:
After folding over the sides of the omelette, and adding some fresh thyme for decoration, she had a lovely omelette ready to serve. Here it is:
We each got half of the omelette, and I thought it was wonderful — served along with a nice, sweet pain au raisin I had bought in the bakery at Castelnaud-la-Chapelle. Here’s my plate, with the rather large raisin bun lurking in the background:
You’ll be pleased to know that quite a few hours later, we’re both feeling fine. Not that we really expected anything else.