The joy of autumn is difficult to describe. Is it the leaf colours, the weather cooling, mushroom gathering, warming up around a campfire and how it feels all the more magical now the air is crisp and the dark evenings draw in? This year it feels accentuated by the sunny weather we’ve been enjoying after a pretty grey, wet summer. Weekends have involved camping, woodland walks, mushroom hunting and enjoying warming drinks with good friends as we celebrate tentatively heading towards normality, and the hope of a festive season with all the usual frivolities.
Autumn is one of the most exciting seasons for the forager, but the foraging “fear-factor” doesn’t get much more intense than when looking for mushrooms. There are a lot of horror stories and warnings surrounding this seasonal activity that are grounded in the true fact that a mistake when gathering mushrooms to eat can be fatal. I’ve no interest in sugar-coating the risk, because I think a responsible forager is a cautious one, but I also firmly believe that you can have a lot of fun learning about edible mushrooms, with a bit of care. Just like plants, it’s a case of paying attention to the small details and getting to a place where you know a mushroom so intricately before even considering eating it. What season are you in? Spring, Autumn? What habitat is it growing in and on what surface? Wood? Woodland? Grassland? Is it growing on a birch tree or beech? Then (and only then) you can look at the anatomy: does it have gills? What shape is its cap? Observing what’s around and really looking closely at these details is what good identification resources are built around. If you’re interested in learning more and foraging for your own food, I’ve compiled a list of the resources I use frequently in this post.
One of my favourite ways to enjoy mushrooms is cooked over a campfire on an autumn day. This dish has been inspired by a holiday to San Sebastien in the Basque region of Spain a few years ago. The weather was sunny, but cool, and we spent our time enjoying walks to see the spectacular views, followed by the most delicious food wherever we went. This dish is all about the earthy warmth of mushrooms and truffle punctuated with garlic, lemon and taken to the next level with a dash of sherry. Divine!
The smoky, umami, sweet, pungent flavours wrap you in a fleece of flavour and autumn is unmistakeably found in this delicious combination. It’s such a treat after a day out in the cold weather and all the more of a reward when using your very own foraged mushrooms. I enjoy mine with a chunk of bread with a crunchy exterior but enough softness to absorb any juices, as well as a fried egg with a soft yolk. If I’m feeling really extra I might even confit the yolk in the oven while the fire heats up.
The beauty of this dish is how the simple treatment of these wild mushrooms celebrates their natural flavour, while sherry and truffle adds a hint of luxury to an autumn campfire.
Campfire Mushrooms with Sherry & Garlic
- Seasonal mushrooms (roughly a large handful)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 clove garlic (use smoked garlic if you have it)
- Generous glug of sherry
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Parsley to garnish
- Truffle salt
- Cook the mushrooms over a high heat taking care not to disturb them too much – you want them to take on a lovely char and colour.
- Add the minced garlic to the pan and pour over the sherry and lemon juice. Continue to cook until the garlic is done and most of the sauce is reduced.
- Stir in the chopped parsley right at the end and sprinkle with truffle salt.
- Serve with crusty bread and a fried or poached egg with a runny yolk. Yum!
I hope you’re having a beautiful autumn – let me know how you’re making the most of the season in the comments below. As always, feel free to tag me in any of your creations on Instagram @plotandlane where I always love to see and share how people are celebrating seasonal and wild food.
Subscribe to the Plot & Lane newsletter
If you would like to get some seasonal recipes and general inspiration for living more seasonally, growing your own and foraging, as well as hearing about upcoming events, do sign up to my monthly newsletters using the box below.