Over the years, I've never had a problem consuming small amounts of these mushrooms, but, some experiments in India that have been discussed in the comment section in this post are building evidence for the case that people who consume Xylaria could be exposed to certain mushroom toxins, specifically amatoxin. Until we know more about the content of any dangerous compounds in Xylaria, I reccomend making this recipe with shaved porcini buttons, or raw chunks of black trumpet.
By far, my favorite way to have the dead man's fingers/Xylaria mushrooms so far has been thinly sliced over some fresh beef tartare. Think of it as a raw version of the classic steak and mushroom combo.
Of course, you wouldn't have to use only Xylaria here, one of my favorite ways to have tartare is with a little bit of mushroom conserve, which can be made with a mix of species or just one-it's how I serve it at the Salt Cellar.
Beef Tartare with Shaved Mushrooms and Ramp Vinaigrette
- 1 lb chilled beef strip loin diced ¼ in
- Fresh cut chives to garnish
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Toast crackers, or another vehicle for serving.
- 1 oz fresh wild mushrooms thinly sliced on the bias or shaved with a truffle peeler
For the vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons fresh ramp bulbs diced ¼ in
- 2 tablespoons virgin sunflower oil extra virgin olive oil could be substituted
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- For the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, ramps, oil and thyme in a bowl. Season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper and reserve until needed. This should be done at least ½ an hour in advance to mellow the taste of the ramps.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the diced beef and two tablespoons of the vinaigrette, or more if you like extra zip. Taste the mixture for salt, pepper, and vinegar, and adjust if needed.
- To plate the tartare, pack ¼ cups of the mixture into ring molds on chilled plates. Garnish the tartare with the sliced xylaria and the chives and serve immediately with the toast or crackers.