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Wild Mushrooms with Crème Fraîche and Pan Fried Bread

Lately, I have been the lucky recipient of recently foraged mushrooms, from my friend and master mushroom scout Jeff Longenecker. Jeff has had his secret spots to forage in the hills around Napa and the rugged redwood coasts of Sonoma and Mendocino for a few decades now. His birthday was in September and we gave him a copy of Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast; A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Northern California by Noah Siegel and Christian Schwarz.

Late summer chanterelles and other mushrooms are plentiful in late fall. The exception being the morel, a harbinger of spring. The harvest and the sharing of the harvest is part of what makes this time of year very special.

Another Jeff with whom you are acquainted, Jeff Durham, has been keeping our kitchen stocked with his homemade crème fraîche. Imogene, our bread starter, is thriving and I have been baking a few loaves of slightly sour bread weekly. Also, Jeff and I have been making a host of terrines, pâtés, and sausages every Sunday.

When I received the mushrooms I thought of this great way to combine them all.

Please substitute in this recipe as you like and need, by no means is this sacrosanct; Cognac or Port for Madeira, red wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar for Sherry vinegar, savory for thyme… feel free to explore the many great, deep flavors of fall.

My favorite substitution in autumn is duck fat for the butter and oil to sauté the mushrooms and to fry the bread!

This can be a perfect savory side dish. However, I like to serve this with spicy lamb sausages that have been cooked over the coals of an outdoor red oak fire, white beans with rosemary and olive oil, and a nice bottle of wine; I may have one to suggest!


  • 10″ sauté pan
  • 10″ cast-iron skillet


For the sauce

2 Tbsp. butter
2 medium shallots, minced, about 2 Tbsp.
1 Tbsp. Madeira
1 Tbsp. Sherry vinegar
Juice of small lemon or half a large one
1/3 cup crème fraîche
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper

For the mushrooms

1 lb wild mushrooms
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. finely chopped thyme or other autumn herbs
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper

For the assembly

Eight slices good country bread
Butter and olive oil to griddle, about a Tbsp. of each

How To Make

Clean mushrooms with a soft towel or brush, removing any dirt or debris. Trim the ends. If using shiitakes fully remove stems, they are tough and woody. Trim any discolored spots, discard any that are soft or show mold. If they are gritty, give a very quick rinse in a bowl of water and dry with a salad spinner or a towel. Quarter mushrooms or slice into strips. Set aside.
Measure and prep the remaining ingredients to prepare your mis-en-place.
Over medium heat, melt the butter in a sauté pan, allowing to foam.
When the foaming subsides add the diced shallots and cook until soft and taking on a bit of color, about five minutes.
Add the Madeira and Sherry vinegar, reduce over the heat allowing to evaporate for a minute. Add the lemon juice, crème fraîche, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust any seasoning. Using a silicone spatula, scrape into a small bowl and set aside. Wipe pan clean for the mushrooms.
In the sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Carefully add the prepared mushrooms, giving a turn to coat with the oil. Spread mushrooms in a single layer. The mushrooms will absorb all the oil at first. Do not move the mushrooms the first three minutes, allowing them to brown. Stirring occasionally, they will begin to give off their liquid in about another three to four minutes. At this point add the herbs. Continue to sauté until they begin to brown and are tender to the bite. Add the garlic, stirring cook for one minute. Add the shallot mixture (prepared in Step 3) and stir. Remove from heat.
In a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat add remaining butter and olive oil. You can substitute duck fat for the butter and olive oil. Dip slices of bread quickly on one side to lightly coat with the butter and oil, setting aside on a plate. Be careful not to soak the slices, you just want to cover the side so you may then brown them.
After all the slices have been coated remove any excess fat from the pan and add pieces back. Fry until golden on the one side, about two to three minutes.
Arrange the golden slices on a tray. Warm the shallot mixture and spoon over the slices. Garnish with fresh herbs.