Discovering a secret hoard of chanterelles or a giant cepe hidden under an oak tree is one of the most exciting and fulfilling things a foodie can do. But please be wary: to the inexperienced eye, an innocent looking poisonous toadstool can easily be mistaken for an edible delight. Luckily, there are professional foragers out there who will discover, collect and vet wild mushrooms that you can buy in specialist food shops to fulfill this recipe.

This extraordinary year seems to have made people much more interested and aware of the provenance of what they eat. Indeed, lockdown turned many of us into foragers as we looked to get better acquainted with the countryside. Outside of a kitchen our brother Oliver’s favorite activity is to go foraging for wild mushrooms. He now does it with his young son, Wilbur, tucked into a pack on his back.

We all think it is great that suddenly the origin of an ingredient is now one of the first questions asked. This recipe combines the best of nature — from wild mushrooms to hazelnuts — and packs in flavor with mace, cinnamon and mustard. The intrepid can also add in their own wild salad leaves for the full effect: dandelion, wood sorrel or wild arugula work well.

Serves six

300g assorted wild mushrooms
150g oyster mushrooms
50g cornflour
Pinch of ground mace
Pinch of cinnamon
80ml rape seed oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
100g hazelnuts
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
150g wild salad leaves, such as chickweed, dandelion, wood or golden sorrel, or wild rocket
Salt and black pepper

  1. Carefully pick though the wild mushrooms to make sure they are clean. Wash if necessary, but be careful not to saturate them
  2. Tear the oyster mushrooms into strips, mix the cornflour with the mace, cinnamon and seasoning, then toss the mushrooms in the flour
  3. Heat the oil in a medium-sized heavy-based pan over a moderate heat. Lightly cook the floured oyster mushrooms, then lift them out of the pan onto kitchen paper with a slotted spoon
  4. Add the wild mushrooms, garlic and hazelnuts to the pan and fry for two minutes. Add the mustards and vinegar and season the dish again
  5. Casually arrange the salad leaves on a serving platter. Spoon over the hot wild mushrooms together with all the juices and place the oyster mushrooms in the center. Serve immediately

Compiled and written by Peter Gladwin.

Richard’s wines to match

This is a dish that really gives you a chance to go off piste. Mushrooms are a great foil for more unusual wine pairing and I am please to recommend three totally contrasting choices:

Cote du Rhone, Réserve, by Famille Perrin

Made up of four grapes — Grenache blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne & Viognier — this wine has great freshness and depth. There is a spiciness to the wine which will counter the rape seed oil that that the mushrooms will have absorbed.

Roero Arneis, Piedmont

Known as ‘White Barolo’, these wines tends to be dry and full-bodied competing with the big flavors of the mushrooms and hazelnuts. Pears and Apricot with gentle cinnamon.

Pinto Gris, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Hawks Bay is further north than the famous Marlborough region, perfect for ripening Pinot Gris. This is my pick of the bunch for Foragers Mushrooms: the taste of rounded autumn fruit and a little sweetness at the end. Think rosy, ripe apples lying in the long autumn grass but still perfect for eating whilst watching a pink dusk.

This article was originally published on Spectator Life.