Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pheasantback Mushrooms!

As promised, here's my play-by-play of how to prep Pheasantback mushrooms. But first, a few specific stats about them:
  • It's hard to mistake another mushroom for a Pheasantback, no other mushrooms really look like them, so you're pretty safe. If you've never foraged for or eaten a pheasantback mushroom, then you should double check with a knowledgeable mushroom person or field guide to mushrooms to make sure you've got what you think you've got.
  • They are also called Dryad's Saddle.
  • They grow from May to November, but their main season in May.
  • They are found mostly on dead deciduous wood - particularly poplar, maple, willow or birch.
  • Some folks think they smell like watermelon rind.
This is the top view of the mushroom.

This is the side view - they attach to the side of a tree trunk, and grow outwards from it like this.
I had a nice harvest of around 5 pounds or so.
First step, cut up the mushrooms and discard the stump where it attached to the tree - this is very tough.

You very often discard around half of the mushroom - the tenderest parts are the outside edges. Once I had prepped the mushrooms, I had about 2# left to work with.
Next step - peel off the top "skin" of the mushroom - is very tough and chewy to eat if you leave it on.
Next step (normally a no-no with mushrooms), I wash thoroughly with the sprayer in my kitchen sink. These mushrooms are polypores, so there's lots of little holes for critters to hide in. This cleans them out nicely.
Drain pore-side down, then press them with another towel on top so that the water can drain out - you want to get as much out of it as possible.
A view of the underside - a perfect polypore!
After the squeezing, I prep the mushroom by chopping into bite-size squares.
I have a pan on med-high with olive oil and melted butter.
I cook to get the water out, and as soon as the steaming cooking sound gives way to a frying cooking sound (sizzle), the mushrooms start browning. I add chopped garlic at this point along with a little salt and pepper. I cook it down for quite some time - I want all the pieces to become browned bits.

And so, after patience, I have nicely browned mushroom bits! I drain on paper towels and then add to stir fries, pizza, or anything that wouild complement the flavor of pheasantbacks. After cooking it like this, and letting it drain, they're a little crispy and I think they taste like crispy fried chicken skin!

Some things to think about:

  • Make sure you've squeezed the fresh pieces out really good - the less water the better!
  • Resist the temptation to turn the heat up too high - a slow fry is what's called for here - you don't want to burn the garlic!
  • You could add a splash of wine at any time in this process. Wine, garlic & mushrooms is a classic combo for a reason - it's delicious!

3 comments:

Maureen said...

Those look great - fedex me a box!

Gill - That British Woman said...

I posted a couple of photos of some mushrooms growing on a living tree on our property and asked the question what are they and are they poisonous. Someone linked me to your site.

If you have a moment could you pop over and have a look and tell me if my mushrooms are the same as yours. I don't plan on eating them just interested.

Gill in Canada

Warren at ewp.rip@sbcglobal.net said...

I recently had about seventeen of what appeared to be Dryad's Saddle pop up around a healthy Ash tree. None were on wood; all were on the ground around the tree. Since they were not on wood I questioned what the were and didn't pick them. They were definately polypores?