Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Sautéed Pheasantbacks

I’ve been scouting in the woods for weeks, ever since two morels popped up under an apple tree in the yard. 

I found: nothing.

I went ‘shrooming with my husband Dan last Sunday; he found one medium-sized Pheasantback. 

I found: nothing.

I’ve never prepared one before, so I consulted Mara Welton’s blog (Half Pint Farm, Burlington Farmer’s Market).

To paraphrase:

Never consume any wild mushrooms without proper identification!

It's not easy to mistake other fungi for a Pheasantback; please check with an experienced forager or guidebook if you are unsure.

Pheasantbacks (a.k.a. Dryad’s Saddle) fruit from May to November and are found on deciduous deadwoods such as poplar, maple, willow and birch. 

If you can’t cut through it, it is too old to eat.

To prepare one, discard the stump and any other hard or sketchy-looking bits. 

The tenderest section is the outer edge; harder parts may be saved, frozen, and used for the stockpot.

Remove the thick "skin" on top of the mushroom. You may need to use a knife to get it started; peel off with your fingers.

Spray forcefully with water (normally a no-no with mushrooms). It is a polypore, so there are lots of holes on the underside for critters to hide in. You may even have to soak it for an hour or two to dislodge stubborn grit and debris.

Place pore-side down on a paper towel and press with a weight to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Portion into bite-sized pieces.  Now, you’re ready to begin!

(Visit Half Pint Farm’s blog for illustrations and step-by-step instructions, plus more local recipes.)
Wild Mushroom Fresh Spring Rolls

Sautéed Pheasantback Mushroom
Recipe by Mara Welton of Half Pint Farm
Serves 4

1 or 2 Medium (hand-sized) Pheasantbacks
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Optional: Chopped Garlic and/or *White Wine


After cleaning and peeling mushroom(s), set a sauté pan over medium heat. 

Add olive oil and a pat or two of butter to coat the surface.

Add prepared mushroom pieces; cook until they start to sizzle.

If desired, add garlic, salt and pepper.

Continue to sauté until beautifully browned. 

Transfer to drain on paper towels.

Use in stir-fries, pizza, or in fresh spring rolls.

* You may add a splash of wine at any time. Wine, garlic & mushrooms are a classic pairing.