Wild mushrooms with herbs
This recipe is tastiest with wild mushrooms like chanterelles (girolles in French) or porcinis (cèpes) that appear in markets only at certain times of year. When wild mushrooms are not available, substitute a cultivated variety. The result will be nearly as delicious.
1 lb. (450 g.) very fresh mushrooms
1 tsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. crème fraîche or heavy cream
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
fresh herbs: dill, chives, cilantro or a combination
Wash the mushrooms gently in a salad spinner to clean and dry them: First remove the basket from the spinner and immerse the mushrooms in lukewarm water in the spinner’s bowl. Next, transfer the mushrooms one by one to the spinner basket, making sure to remove or brush off any clinging grass or dirt. If the bottom of the stem is dirty and has not been sliced off, do that now. Finally spin the cleaned mushrooms dry. I recommend doing this twice, as the mushrooms should be as water-free as possible.
Now take a look at your mushrooms. You want them to be more or less uniform in size, so slice the larger ones in two and leave the smaller ones whole. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over a high flame. When it is sizzling, add the mushrooms and turn the heat down to medium-high. Add the garlic halves. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. The mushrooms will release a lot of juice before absorbing it back. Stir occasionally while they are cooking, about 10 minutes.
When the mushrooms have reclaimed their juices, turn the heat down to low. Remove and discard the garlic halves. Add the cream and a little spritz of lemon juice (go easy — too little lemon is far better than too much). Taste and reseason if necessary.
If you are serving this dish as a starter, serve in shallow bowls. Snip the fresh herbs over each bowl. Serve while warm. Serves 2 generously.
These mushrooms also work well as a side vegetable for roasted meats (veal, beef, pork) and for fish (cod, flounder, sole). They may be combined with pasta to make a fabulous main dish — just add a little more cream. Or you can put them in an omelet, again with a little more cream. In any of these cases, the quantity in this recipe is enough to serve 4.
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