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Wild Mushroom Butter

Wild Mushroom Butter
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There’s something about wild mushrooms and dishes made from them like wild mushroom butter, something faintly alarming and decidedly adventuresome. It’s a disquieting food, like raw milk, and it takes a certain amount of culinary fortitude to walk into the woods, scratch your way through the pine needles, the brush and slowly rotting logs to find these little treasures before returning home to cook them up for your family. And when you tell your friends that you’ve gone mushrooming, they’ll warn you: But, how do you know they’re not poisonous? I mean you could die or go on a really crazy trip, man. With fair reason, too, I mean you could get sick from wild mushrooms just as you could get sick from fresh milk or any other food, really. But here’s the crux of the issue, if you know your food, really know your food, the likelihood of becoming sick is greatly minimized and virtually non-existent.

Wild mushroom butter will keep for several months, as fat -- even butterfat -- acts as a natural preservative. It also allows us to keep and extend our meager findings of wild mushrooms by simply acting as a flavor enhancer rather than a main course like mushroom stew. So we minced the mushrooms, combining them with local shallots and fresh thyme and whipped them into fresh butter. My intention was to serve this butter on pan-seared grass-fed rib-eye steaks, which I eventually did, but first I smeared some on a piece of whole grain sourdough herb bread. I’ll also serve wild mushroom butter melted over braised leeks or to top a bowl of creamy mushroom soup.

  • 8 ounces
    softened butter, divided, 1 cup
  • shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup
    edible wild mushrooms, minced; or domestic mushrooms if wild are unavailable
  • 1 teaspoon
    fresh thyme leaves
    freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  1. Melt about three tablespoons of your 1 cup of butter in a cast iron skillet over a medium flame until it begins to foam.  Immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and add 1 minced shallot to the hot fat.
  2. When the minced shallots have released their fragrance,  have turned translucent, and their edges begin to caramelize, empty your bowl of minced wild mushrooms into skillet quickly and all at once so that the mushrooms sizzle in the pan and their earthy perfume fills your kitchen.
  3. Stir the mushrooms with a wooden spoon to promote even cooking, scraping any bits that happen to adhere to the bottom of your skillet.
  4. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves over your mushrooms and continue to cook for a minute or two.
  5. Turn off the heat, and allow the seasoned butter, mushrooms, shallots, and thyme to cool for about 10 minutes.
  6. While the mushrooms rest and cool, beat the remaining butter until soft, smooth, and easily manageable.
  7. Spoon the seasoned fat, mushrooms, shallots, and thyme into the remaining butter and fold them together until the seasonings are well-incorporated into the fat. Use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment for greatest efficiency, but if you don’t have one, a mixing bowl and rubber spatula should suffice.
  8. Grind a bit of white pepper into the butter as you gently fold the ingredients together.
  9. Mold the compound butter gently over waxed paper, rolling it into a log if doing so suits you.  If you’re lucky enough to find a good butter mold, use that instead.
  10. Place it in the fridge and use it within a month or two.  Fat is an excellent preservative.
Nutritional Information

Makes: 10 servings
  • Calories164
  • Carbohydrates0.2 g
    • Dietary fiber0 g
  • Cholesterol49 mg
  • Fat18.4 g
    • Saturated fat11.7 g
  • Sodium131 mg
  • Protein0.3 g
* Nutritional Guidelines based on the USDA's MyPlate Standards.
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