Autumn’s the time for ‘shrooms! Whilst a few species start fruiting around June/July, the vast majority start around August, September and October, coming to an end around the start of December. There is no ‘best’ region of the UK in which to find mushrooms, they’re everywhere, but that’s not to say there aren't better places to look than others. Start looking in large areas of wild, like national parks, forests, and anywhere you find long stretches of green.
If you’re in the mood to head out into the wild to and reconnect with nature, then you’re in luck. We spoke to Fern Freud, a forager, wild wanderer and the genius behind Foraged with Fern. Based in Sussex, she makes wild swimming, canoeing and hiking part of a day’s work and uses her in-depth knowledge of the wild around her to find delicious dishes hidden in the hedgerows. This week, we found out how easy it was to make a phenomenal, foraged mushroom pasta dish!
A mushroom by many names, Ceps is the French term for what Italians call Porcini, and the English (apparently) call ‘penny buns’. Characterised by their thick stems and fat caps, they’re found exclusively in the wild, due to how difficult they are to cultivate without trees. You’ll find them anywhere that beech, pine, oak, birch, spruce or fir trees grow. As taste goes, they’re intense – with a woody flavour and nutty undertones, often paired with pasta or risotto dishes.
Not as common as ceps, winter chanterelle can be found in quite large numbers when you do find them – around birch or beech trees, mossy areas, or occasionally evergreen forests. You may also know them by ‘trumpet chanterelles’ or ‘yellow foot’. They’re regarded as a ‘gourmet’ mushroom, with a strong peppery taste, though lacking the sweetness of their cousin the golden chanterelle.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the tagliatelle pasta according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and 7g of butter over medium-high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté them until they release their moisture and turn golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Remove half of the sautéed mushrooms and set them aside for garnish.
In the same skillet, add the remaining 7g tablespoon of butter. Add the minced garlic and chopped onion. Sauté for about 2-3 minutes until the onion becomes translucent and fragrant.
Pour in the heavy cream and chicken or vegetable broth. Stir to combine. Allow the mixture to simmer for 3-4 minutes, letting it thicken slightly.
Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese until it's completely melted into the sauce. This will make the sauce creamy and rich.
Add the cooked tagliatelle pasta to the skillet with the creamy mushroom sauce. Toss everything together gently to coat the pasta evenly with the sauce. If the sauce seems too thick, you can add a little more chicken or vegetable broth to reach your desired consistency.
Season the dish with salt and black pepper to taste. Toss in the reserved sautéed mushrooms. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired. Divide the creamy mushroom tagliatelle among serving plates. You can sprinkle some extra grated Parmesan cheese and parsley on top for extra flavour and presentation.