I got wind of a cookbook project and began talking with the Cascade Mycological Society behind it last week. They were looking for dishes featuring lactarius and slippery jack species, and just so happens I had a few recipes laying around I hadn’t shared. I agreed to donate 6 dishes or so for their book, which is a non-profit; all the proceeds will go to mycological scholarships.
It doesn’t surprise me they were in search of recipes for these two species, which, from my experience are really overlooked by Americans. I suspect they aren’t as popular for a number of reasons, but here are the first ones that come to mind: Slippery jacks have a “different” texture, and milkcaps have a reputation for being feasted upon by bugs. I can attest though that large, pristine fruitings of saffron milkcaps can be found, at the right time that is.
I’ll share some more of these in the future, but for now here’s my favorite: Catalan Saffron Milkcaps. I got the idea for it after reading a passage in a great book: “Mushrooms and Russia In History”, and it’s authored by a very interesting and knowledgeable couple: Valentina Pavlovna Wasson, and Gordon Wasson, who also wrote about the SOMA, but that’s another story. See and download your own copy of the book for free here.
In the book, Valentina waxes about the fascination of mushrooms by different cultures, and discusses specific favorites of Europeans from different regions. In the excerpt, Valentina is talking about saffron milkcaps, which the Spanish call either “rovellons” or “nizcalos”. (Catalonia is a region in Eastern Spain)
“The Catalan prizes this mushroom highest of
all: he honors it above the cepe de Bordeaux. He puts his mess of rovellons into
a frying pan of very hot oil, and on top of the mushrooms he adds tomatoes
and garlic and parsley and sausage made from pork, and after cooking the whole
for ten minutes or less over a slow fire, he sits down to a dish that he considers
fit for the gods.”
After reading the description I had to make a recipe. It’s simple, delicious, and just screaming to be put on toast or pasta.
Catalan Saffron Milkcaps
- 8 oz fresh saffron milkcaps sliced if large, left whole if small
- 1/2 cup chopped peeled tomatoes
- 4 oz bulk chorizo sausage
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 tsp chopped fresh garlic
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for garnishing preferably a peppery Spanish variety (optional)
- High quality bread crust removed and toasted
- In a large saute pan, render the fat from the chorizo and brown it lightly. With a slotted spoon, remove the chorizo, leaving the fat in the pan.
- Reserve the chorizo until needed.
- Heat the remaining fat and add the saffron milkcaps. Cook the saffron milkcaps on medium-high heat until lightly browned and caramelized, about 5 minutes. Season the mushrooms lightly with salt.
- Add the garlic, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, reserved chorizo and parsley and cook for 5 minutes more. Double check the seasoning for salt and pepper, then serve immediately on toast garnished with a drizzle of the olive oil.