During the pandemic I know WE have been cooking for than ever, and how we buy our food has also changed. We bought a pretty large amount of our food from farmer’s markets before, and supplemented with our foraging and gardening. That has changed pretty dramatically. We now buy almost all of our food farm direct. Several of the farmers we have bought from at the seasonal markets have stores on their farms now.
One of the things that has kept us sane is the weekly trips to the farm stores to stock up. It’s like a mini road trip, and you get to see aminals. That was not a typo. We have done a whole lot of foraging and gardening this last year, but large, public grocery stores are a no go.
On our way back from one of the farm stores in the fall we spotted a tree full of oyster mushrooms at the edge of a farm field. In a swamp, no less. We pulled over and went to harvest. While we were there, we ran across a few logs just COVERED in puffballs. I’ve written about them previously. I thought I would share one of my favorite meals to prepare with them, as it brings all the best things together; farm-to-table, forest-to-table, and garden-to-table in one dish!
We harvested probably 14 pounds of oyster mushrooms, and close to 5 pounds of puffballs. Please make sure you never eat anything you are unsure of! Mushrooms are amazing and a great foraging experience, but you really need to know exactly what you are eating or it could kill you. Please do lots of research before you harvest and eat anything.
Larger species of puffball have to be pealed before they are eaten, but the common puffball types don’t. As long as they are prepared (cut in half from the top down to check for a button mushroom shadow indicating it is not a true puffball, and across the bottom to make sure the insides are pure white, not yellow or green) they dont even have to be washed. In fact, you really shouldn’t wash them at all, just use a soft brush to knock the dirt and debris off.
I had a quart of prepared puffballs, along with some farm fresh potatoes, free range bacon, free range eggs (all from local farms) and chives fresh from my garden. I usually cook a few pounds if bacon at once, as it makes meals throughout the week much faster. Since much of this was sitting in my fridge prepared, when I came home with the fresh potatoes, they were all I really had to cut up to make an amazing breakfast.
I’m a big fan of Mise en place cooking, so I got everything together and ready to go before I started. It really does make cooking a lot easier if you gather and measure all of your ingredients before you start.
After I had everything ready to go, I started the potatoes in a cast iron skillet using saved bacon renderings. I cooked them until they were tender, and then added the 8 ounces of prepared bacon.
Once everything has cooked through and the bacon has gotten nice and crispy, I added the prepared puffball mushrooms and began to saute them.
Since it is just about impossible to overcook mushrooms, you need to make sure they are cooked through, without burning everything else. Puffballs are a little tricky because they are like marshmallows with snap. When they get the texture of a cooked button mushroom, they are ready.
I whisked my eggs in the measuring cup and slowly poured it into the potatoes, bacon, and puffballs. Stirring slowly, scramble the whole mixture.
After a few minutes of slow, patient scrambling, you end up with this beautiful meal! I know it seems really involved and time consuming, but it really isn’t. It took longer to read this than to do it.
The flavor of everything really comes together and the puffballs have a great mushroom flavor. This could obviously be done with store bought mushrooms, or honestly any other foraged mushroom, but when the puffballs are fruiting, they end up in everything. They go great in pasta sauce, for instance.
I hope you get to try this recipe out and enjoy it. See if there are any local farms in your area that have farm stores, or sell to independent grocery stores. Good luck foraging and be well!