My old chef and I were out morel hunting in a new spot in Wisconsin this week, and, unfortunately, we got skunked. Thankfully there were a few old-timers on the same patch of land who hunt it every year who came up empty handed too, so I didn’t feel too bad.
As is pretty common when I’m not getting morels, I grabbed a few pheasant backs / dryad saddles to bring home as a consolation prize, so white wine pheasant backs were on the menu for the evening. It’s a good, easy wild mushroom recipe you can also use for species like chicken of the woods and lobster mushrooms.
This is a great way to prepare these mushrooms if you’re used to just frying them up. Instead of sautéing them in a bunch of fat, which can be good, I cook them gently, with what I might describe as the poêler method, where an the ingredient in question is stewed in it’s own liquid (here with a splash of wine) which keeps them nice and juicy.
The best part of this recipe that may surprise you is the natural juices / liquor that the mushrooms make. Believe me when I say it’s just about good enough to drink from the pan.
The finished dish is a saucy mushroom side perfect for spooning on top of fish or chicken. Consider finishing the sauce with some chopped dill, chives, wild onions, green garlic or mint here.
It’s a great start to a bowl of pasta. To finish the dish, add a good knob of butter, a splash of chicken stock, some fresh young peas or spinach, and parmesan or goat cheese stirred in right at the end, off the heat as you toss the juicy mushrooms with your noodles of choice (linguine would be good).
Add some extra chicken stock and 1/4 cup each finely chopped carrot onion and celery and it’s a good start to a spring mushroom soup.
White Wine Pheasant Backs
- 1 large clove garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 oz tender edges of dryad saddle mushrooms sliced as thin as possible on a mandoline
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- ¼ teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- Tiny pinch of red pepper flakes
- Dash of fresh lemon to taste
- Roughly 10 fresh mint leaves or other fresh herbs basil, oregano, wild oregano, or ramp leaves are a good substitute here. Use what you have available.
- In a 10 inch saute pan or small saucepan, sweat the garlic and butter on medium-low for 2-3 minutes without allowing the garlic to color.
- Add the sliced mushrooms, pinch of chili, wine and stock, cover and bring to a simmer until the mushrooms are tender and have given up their juice.
- Remove the lid and simmer the pan for 5-10 minutes to concentrate the pan juices.
- Taste the pan juices-they’re delicious, and that makes this recipe a good starting point for a bowl of pasta with some fresh spring greens tossed in at the end as well as just a garnish for a plate.
- The mushrooms should be gently swimming in a rich liquor, if you don’t want to drizzle their juices over something on a plate, you can concentrate this into a light sauce by simmering it for a bit longer.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning for salt just before serving, adding the lemon and mint or other herbs right at the end.