Here it comes. Cooler weather, I’ve been waiting for you since May. We were so used to leaving our windows open overnight to cool the house down that it came as a surprise to us when we woke up Saturday morning and the temperature inside was 52°F. That’s even lower than what we set our heat to overnight in winter (we set it to 55°F). No wonder Neva was all snuggled up between us on the bed after her 6 am breakfast. Outside we could see an impressive frost on the deck. Well alright then! The scrub in the high country has been turning red and gold for a couple of weeks now, but the leaves are finally following suit at higher elevations. My landscape photographer friends are getting itchy for the fall shoot. We’re all waiting to see if the colors will be on time (like usual) or if they’re going to bust out of the gate early.
bright red huckleberry bushes on cottonwood pass (looking west toward taylor reservoir)
dreamy sunset colors
red aspen leaves against bluebird skies
But before I could even think about the fall shoot, I had to research, test, make, and photograph recipes with my foraged chanterelles and porcini from last weekend. Oh, and I had to clean them – a time-consuming process with the chanties when you have several pounds. From the moment I cut the mushrooms off the ground, the clock starts ticking. I store them in brown paper bags in the refrigerator and they last about a week. Brown paper bags populated all of the non-freeze zones of my refrigerator while I shifted everything else around them. The rest will be sautéed in butter and frozen for winter. Any chanterelles that are too far gone to eat get chucked into a separate bag. Those will soak in a combination of water, molasses, and salt for a day or two before pouring the “spore” water out in suitable chanterelle environments.
Generally, I don’t pick the porcini that have been wormed out (the stipe or cap will feel particularly squishy), but sometimes you can pick a firm porcini and the few worms present will make Swiss cheese of the inside while you hike around, drive home, and pop it in the refrigerator. That’s why I try to dress the porcini (cut out any worms) in the field if I have the time. Porcini that are too wormed out (those itty bitty worms, they have voracious appetites) get staked under an appropriate spruce where some spores might take hold in the future.
always delightful to peer into the huckleberry leaves and find a chanterelle or two
porcini like the huckleberry plants, too
The first recipe I wanted to shoot involved both kinds of mushrooms, mostly because I wanted to take care of the porcini before the worms ate anymore of them (or any more worms escaped onto the refrigerator shelf). The reality of foraging porcini is that you will deal with worms. I’ve rarely encountered chanterelles that were wormed out, but it has happened on rare occasion. Even if your porcini have some worms, you can usually cut that section out and salvage the rest. So let’s make some wild mushroom pizza! And as always, you can substitute any combination of edible mushrooms.
chanterelles, porcini, pizza dough, parmesan, fontina, butter, flake sea salt, sea salt, thyme, garlic
melt the butter and mince the garlic
mix the garlic into the butter
I start with a garlic butter base because garlic and butter complement mushrooms so nicely. Sometimes I leave the butter as a soft spread, but it’s easier to apply to the pizza dough when it is melted. Next, I slice the mushrooms to about 1/4-inch thickness and sauté them in butter. You can use olive oil if you like, but seriously – butter is the way to go.
slice the mushrooms
sauté in butter
mise en place
Now that you have all of your ingredients ready, toss or roll your pizza dough out to your desired thickness. I like my crust on the thin side, so 1/8-inch thickness is what I target. Brush the dough with the garlic butter and sprinkle a little sea salt over that. Distribute a quarter of the Fontina over the pizza, then layer the mushrooms, and the rest of the Fontina on top. Top it off with the thyme and Parmesan. The recipe calls for truffle oil to be drizzled over the pizza, but I didn’t want it to overpower the delicate flavors of the chanterelles and fresh porcini, so I left it out. I am guessing it would be terrific with other types of mushrooms like crimini, portabella, white button, etc.
brush garlic butter on the dough
a little fontina
add mushrooms, the rest of the fontina, thyme, and parmesan
ready to grill
We like to grill our pizzas because our oven sucks, but a pizza stone in a hot oven works well, too. When the pizza is done, sprinkle a little flake sea salt over it and serve hot. I was debating between three recipes that used different cheeses with the mushrooms: Fontina, mozzarella, or ricotta and sought the advice of my friends on Facebook. Most of them recommended Fontina. I wasn’t familiar with it, but I think it works beautifully with the wild mushrooms and the thyme. Fontina has a nuttier flavor than mozzarella, yet is creamy enough to give a good melt on the pizza. So for you mushroom lovers out there, this is one more way to love your mushrooms – in pizza form.
sprinkle a little flake sea salt
a celebration of mushroom goodness
1 lb. pizza dough (I use this recipe)
1 tbsp olive oil or unsalted butter
1 lb. fresh mushrooms (any variety), sliced 1/4-inch thick (I used chanterelles and porcini)
2 tbsps unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups Fontina cheese, shredded
2 tsps fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp truffle oil (optional, I didn’t use it with the chanterelles and porcini)
Place a wide skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms when the pan is hot. After a couple of minutes, add a tablespoon of butter or olive oil to the hot pan and stir the mushrooms around. Sprinkle some sea salt over the mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms until cooked (5-8 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir the garlic into the butter. Set aside.
You can make two 12-inch pizzas or one 16-inch pizza. Preheat your pizza stone in the bottom third of the oven to 550°F or set it on your grill and heat the grill to 500 – 550°F. Sprinkle your pizza peel with cornmeal or flour to prevent sticking. With floured hands, flatten the dough on a floured work surface and roll or toss the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer the dough to your peel.
Brush the garlic butter over the dough. Give a light sprinkle of sea salt over the garlic butter. Sprinkle a quarter of the Fontina on the dough (if making two 12-inch pizzas, use half as much on each pizza). Distribute the mushrooms over the cheese. Spread the rest of the Fontina over the mushrooms. Finish the pizza with the thyme, Parmesan, and if using, the truffle oil. I didn’t use truffle oil because I didn’t want to mask the delicate flavors of the chanterelles and fresh porcini, but I think it would be fine with white button or crimini mushrooms.
Set the tip of the peel on the far end of the pizza stone and give it a jiggle so that the pizza begins to slide off and the edge is resting on the stone. Pull the peel out from under the pizza at an angle (to encourage the pizza to disengage). Bake for 8-10 minutes, but check for doneness. Remove from heat and serve. [Repeat for the second pizza.] Makes two 12-inch pizzas or one 16-inch pizza.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
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