After the recent movie 'Fantastic Fungi' came out on Netflix and received much critical acclaim, my friend Eugenia Bone, the leading lady from the film, set up a blog inviting amateur mycologists and myco-chefs from across the country to submit their favorite recipes. Once she saw that many of the recipes were the kinds of dishes that mycologists, and many published chefs, regularly cooked for themselves at home on a regular basis, the idea for this cookbook emerged: The ’Fantastic Fungi Community Cookbook'. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of my recipes selected for the book including one on the back cover which I am excited to share with you now.
Living on Cape Ann, we have easy access to big juicy scallops and seafood marries very well with a common local edible mushroom in our woods, the Black Trumpet. It's true they are called 'Trompette de la Mort' in French, but they are not even close to anything that will kill you. They are simply black and rather hard to see in the woods when dark dead leaves litter the forest floor. Those silly Frenchmen! They are also one of the few wild-harvested fungi that you can readily purchase dried at most quality gourmet food stores. You can substitute dried porcinis instead if that is all you can find. Not a poor substitute at all and I have done it many times in the past. I often like to gild this recipe with a small lobster cooked and chopped up to add variety and flavor to the dish. The cream sauce is similar to a standard morels in cream sauce, but it is simpler, has less cream, and has the added earthy bonus achieved by using bourbon as a liquor.
Scallops with Black Trumpets
1/4 C heavy cream
28 dried black trumpets, or about 1/2 ounce
4 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. shallots, minced
1/4 C bourbon
1 heaping Tbs. garlic, minced
10 ounces spinach, stems removed
2 Tbs. avocado or olive oil
16 large scallops, abductor muscle removed, dried
2 C cooked rice
In the microwave, heat up the cream without boiling it. Add the trumpet pieces, broken up a bit, and allow them to soften about 5 minutes. Strain them well and save the cream.
Heat 2 Tbs. of the butter over medium-low heat and sauté the shallots, stirring often, until soft, about 5-8 minutes. Add the trumpets and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Raise the heat to med-high and add the bourbon. Stir constantly and cook until almost dry, then add the cream and reduce heat to low to slowly simmer and reduce until thick about 7-10 minutes. If you want more sauce, add some more cream. You can even let it boil fully to reduce to half the volume. The idea is to have enough to thoroughly wet the dish when done, but not to serve it in a puddle of sauce either. Salt it well and turn the heat off. Mushrooms and cream demand a healthy amount of salt.
Steam the spinach for 5 minutes, until it wilts. Remove and squeeze the excess water out of it.
Heat the oil on med-high until it just begins to smoke, add the butter and as soon as it melts add the scallops, spaced slightly apart from each other. Do not touch them for about 2-3 minutes until they are browned on the underside. Turn the scallops over carefully to brown and cook their other side. Let them sit 2-3 minutes and remove from the heat.
Unlike the image shown above from the book, I like to dish this by creating a mound of about 1/2 C of cooked rice on the plate, a thin layer of the spinach on top of that, then 4 scallops. Cover this with the trumpet cream sauce and you have a beautifully, layered presentation.
For those of you who tried the last recipe, Short Ribs with Oyster mushrooms, keep in mind that the amount of meat on short ribs varies a lot, as well as the size of roasting pans and oven temperatures. You might do well to use 3-1/2 to 4 lbs. of short ribs and increase the liquid by another 1 to 1-1/2 cups of wine and/or chicken broth. A wide roasting pan may dry things out too quickly. Consider covering it lightly with tin foil an hour or two before the end to keep the liquids in. If you want the meat to totally fall off the bone, you can even cook it an extra hour. Experiment and enjoy.
Gary Gilbert lectures about fungi locally and through the Boston Mycological Club. If you are interested in cooking more recipes from the Fantastic Fungi Community Cookbook, you can find it at The Bookshop of Beverly Farms.