Written by John Butterworth
Harbour Heights Hotel
There’s nothing better than heading into the wild in search of beautiful ingredients. And if you know what you’re looking for, the world’s your oyster! Foraging specialists Richard Sawden and Clarrisa Novak kindly invited our Head Chefs on a journey of discovery in the New Forest in search of delicious fresh wild mushrooms.
For our FJB Chefs it was a great opportunity for them all to be together to discuss the multitude of options in cooking wild mushrooms picked directly from the forest floor.
We source our mushrooms from Country Fare who collect their produce from the local area however we rarely experience the actual harvesting for ourselves. Locally, especially in the the New Forest, we have many varieties of delicious edible mushrooms. During our visit we were searching for Girolles, Beefsteak, Blewits, Millers, Winter Chanterelle, Chicken of the Woods and Hen of the Woods.
If you do head out foraging (with an expert in tow!), it’s important to respect the environment. To encourage growth for the next season, leave spores around the area you picked. You can do this by brushing the spores gently or cutting off small bits of the mushroom itself.
Now the tasty part – cooking them!
There really is nothing better than cooking something you’ve picked yourself.
Chefs, Simon Braz and Lauren Gladwin, from the Haven Hotel enjoyed demonstrating unique ways to use mushrooms in various recipes. As expected from our talented chefs, they have created a special dish to pay homage to mushrooms: Wild Mushroom and Celeriac Consommé with mushroom duxelles, pickled Shimeji, King Oyster jam, truffle, watercress and charcoal oil.
Our brigade of chefs who also attended the experience included Loic Gratadoux (Executive Head Chef, Harbour Heights Hotel) and Simon Hallam (Head Chef, Sandbanks Hotel) who enjoyed the experience immensely and has given them new food-for-thought in creating exciting Autumn dishes of their restaurants.
For those who want to try their hand at cooking a wild mushroom dish at home, we’d recommend sautéing them with a little garlic, cream and herbs, and serving them on toasted ciabatta with rocket and a drizzle of truffle oil. Delicious!
Because there are so many different types, identifying mushrooms takes a great deal of knowledge and attention to detail. The colours, stem sizes and markings vary hugely, so for novices we’d strongly recommend going with as expert – and if you’re not 100% certain, don’t pick it.
NEVER PICK MUSHROOMS UNLESS YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY SURE THEY’RE EDIBLE – ALWAYS ASK AN EXPERT.
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