When I was little, my grandmother used to forage for mushrooms in the old cemetery behind her home. In the fall, she would get these enormous Puffball mushrooms (Langermannia gigantea) and cook them simply in butter and oil, and they were such a treat! I've added some fresh herbs to enhance their flavor. Normally about the size of a large ball of buffalo mozarella (although often MUCH larger), Puffballs don't have gills, and when they are fresh, they are solid white throughout with a squeaky, slightly marshmallowy consistency (see photo #3). They don't give off all the liquid that gill mushrooms do, and brown very nicely. You obviously have to know what you are doing to hunt for wild mushrooms on your own, and if you don't live in a region where Puffballs grow, or you're not sure about the species, the giant King Oyster mushrooms available in many Asian groceries are similar in taste and texture when they are very fresh (see photo #2). You could easily add garlic or shallots to this recipe, but the mushrooms have a very mild flavor that is lovely on its own.
Photo #1 courtesy of the Wisconsin Mycological Society
Photo #2 courtesy of Petitchef.com
Photo #3 courtesy of http://www.silysavg.com/ —Burnt Offerings
4 - 6
Fresh Puffball or King Oyster Mushroom (seasonings are per pound)
fresh thyme leaves
Fresh rosemary, leaves removed from center twig, but kept intact in small bunches
Clean the mushroom by using a damp paper towel to remove any dirt, and trim the stem end with a paring knife so all that remains is white flesh. If the Puffball is very large, it's a good idea to peel it first - the outer skin can get leathery.
Slice the puffball into large slices, about 1/4 inch thick. If using King Oyster Mushrooms, slice them lengthwise as thickly and evenly as you can.
Stud the mushroom slices with the rosemary leaves, and sprinkle liberally with 1/2 the salt and pepper.
Melt the butter and oil over medium heat in a large skillet until foamy.
Lay the mushroom slices in the skillet and fry them until they are well browned - about 3-4 minutes depending on their size.
Flip the slices over, season again with remaining salt and pepper, and sprinkle with fresh thyme while waiting for the other side to brown.
Serve immediately with a nice steak, grilled chicken, or all by themselves with just a salad and bread.