I remember frying mushrooms just like this with my friend Gilly, in some beautiful evergreen woods not far from where I live. I’d brought a pan with me, just in case we found some, and, guess what? We did. I picked them carefully, brushed off the leaves and earth and got a fire going. I suppose they took about 3 or 4 minutes to cook. We ate them with our fingers straight from the pan and they were absolutely incredible. The following spring the Forestry Commission rolled in with their big machines and cut down the entire wood. Mushrooms won’t grow there without the trees, so I’m thankful for this little moment and the memory I made.
Photography: Andrew Montgomery
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
a few of handfuls of wild mushrooms, cleaned and ready to cook
1–2 thyme sprigs
a knob of butter
1 small garlic clove, thinly sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Set a medium heavy-based frying pan over the fire, and when it’s hot, add the extra-virgin olive oil.
Scatter the mushrooms into the pan, breaking up any bigger ones with your fingers. Add the thyme and some salt and pepper, then fry the mushrooms, tossing them about the pan regularly, until they start to give up their moisture (about 3–4 minutes). If the pan’s not hot enough the mushrooms will start to simmer in their juices instead of frying.
Clear a little space in the pan and drop in the butter; it’ll start to sizzle wildly. Drop the sliced garlic into the butter and let it cook for 20–30 seconds, then stir or toss the mushrooms about the pan. That’s it, they’re ready to serve. You could pile them on toast, stir them through pasta, top them with a fried egg or simply eat them as we did, on their own.
A beautiful book dedicated to cooking outdoors, whatever the weather, Gill Meller’s book Outside is the perfect companion for food cooked over fire, in tune with nature and the seasons. Outside: Recipes for a Wilder Way of Eating by Gill Meller (Quadrille, £30) Photography: Andrew Montgomery