UseBlog Eats: Wild Mushroom & Artichoke Pie
It’s mushroom picking season! Well, actually it could be drawing to a close depending on where you live. But here on the West Coast the hills are still alive with the sound of mushrooms. I’ve been picking wild mushrooms for a few years and I still consider myself an absolute novice. I’m pretty religious about the whole “when in doubt, throw it out” mantra. And to go one smart step further, when I’m in doubt, I don’t pick it and kill it for no reason. I stick to picking five types of mushrooms: boletes, hedgehogs, shaggy manes, horse mushrooms and chanterelles. And still I inspect very carefully as there are poisonous look-a-likes out there — false chanterelle, I’m looking at you. In short, be very, very, very careful. It’s no joke. Another thing to consider, is that some people have difficulty digesting wild mushrooms. Apparently, par-boiling mushrooms can help make them easier to digest, but I’ve never bothered and I’ve never had a problem. So, yeah. You’ve been warned. Consider this my legal disclaimer. Trust me, it wouldn’t be worth your time to sue me. You’ll have to get in line behind student loans and Columbia House.
Right, so if you’ve never picked wild mushrooms, go with someone who has. Many cities have mycological societies (mushroom clubs) that meet monthly. These groups often arrange beginner’s forays and offer workshops and lectures. I recently joined SVIMS here in Victoria and I attended my first mushroom club meeting last week. As you might expect it was an eclectic gathering — students, academics, first and second-generation Europeans and me. It was very interesting and I can honestly say I learned a lot about the Fungi Kingdom. Oh yes, there’s a kingdom.
So yeah, we went out into the woods last weekend and stumbled (literally) on to a marvelous patch of hedgehogs. Hedgehogs are a late-season mushroom, so there were quite a few of them despite the recent cold weather. And once we were on the ground plucking hedgehogs, we spied a patch of chanterelles a few feet away. Heaven! Chanterelles are selling for a bazillion dollars a pound in the stores right now. A bazillion – look it up. So, we picked and wandered and picked and wandered until our baskets were full and the sun was starting to set. It was time to head home and cook up our bounty, but not before we found five fat boletes just waiting for us to save them from the slugs! Score.
Once I saw how many tasty fungi we’d collected, I knew I wanted to make a mushroom pie. Usually we fry them up with butter and garlic and spoon them over bread. Delicious…but today we had enough mushrooms to justify a whole pie. Here’s the BBC GoodFood recipe I kind of followed :
- 400 grams of wild mushrooms (hedgehogs, chanterelles & boletes) – I weighed mine, but I think it was roughly 2 cups
- 1 medium golden onion
- 125 ml grilled artichoke hearts (jarred & sometimes found in the ethnic foods aisle)
- 1 large garlic clove
- 3 tbsps olive oil
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- Italian parsley for garnish (large handful, roughly chopped)
- package of frozen puff pastry (shameful, I know)
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp water
Preheat oven to 400° F.
You don’t wash mushrooms or they get waterlogged. You just want to brush off the debris and grit. This is why I’m grateful my mushroom picking partner (and life partner, o lucky man) insists that I brush off the pine needles and soil BEFORE I toss them in the basket. It makes cleaning them go by much faster.
Once the mushrooms are clean, slice the bigger ones in to bite-size pieces and leave the little ones whole.
- Chop the onion into small-ish pieces (if you’re feeling “rustic” you can chop them a little bigger). Saute the onion in half the oil for 12-15 minutes until soft and slightly brown on the edges. Your kitchen will smell very, very good.
- Put the onions into a bowl and mix with the drained artichoke hearts. Add salt & pepper. Season to taste.
- In the same pan, heat the remaining oil in med-high heat. Add the mushrooms and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until soft.
- Throw in garlic and thyme and continue to cook for a minute.
- Remove from heat, season with whatever you fancy (I added more salt & pepper) and allow to cool.
Roll out the Dough
Yes, of COURSE a lovely homemade pâte brisée would be perfect for this recipe. But after scrambling across the forest floor for a day, I didn’t have it in me to make pastry. So, I picked up a handy-dandy package of frozen puff pastry. Besides, the recipe called for frozen pastry. True story.
- On a floured surface, roll out a circle roughly 40 cm in diameter
- Use an off-set pastry spatula or a regular old spatula to lift the dough and drape it over a large lightly oiled baking sheet.
Putting it all together
- Pile the onions and artichokes into the middle of the pastry and spread them out evenly, leaving a 10cm border around the edge, then pile the mushrooms on top.
- Bring the edges of the pastry up over the filling.
- Beat the egg with the water and brush the exposed pastry edge with the egg glaze.
- Bake for 25-30 mins until the pastry is crisp and golden brown. Check the bottom. Mine was still pale and doughy at the 25-minute mark. I let it bake the full 30 minutes.