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.