…served here with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon.
✓Gluten-free ✓Grain-free ✓Sugar free ✓Low-carb ✓Dairy-free option
Here’s one for the hunter-gatherers amongst you: If you are lucky enough to come across this excellent wild-mushroom, it’s easy to cook, mild flavoured, melt in the mouth and looks pretty on the plate…
First catch your puffball…
When you first stumble upon the fruiting body of the giant puffball fungus (Calvatia gigantea) it can be a little unsettling. These are one of the largest edible fungi in the UK and are found most often in rough grass or pasture.
We thought ours was some rubbish left in the countryside and went to pick it up – only realising what we were dealing with after dislodging it from its tiny umbilical earth-stalk. We found three others close by, but just took the one we had detached, which was the size of a small football.
Despite a little slug damage, the puffball was in good condition – firm, white – at its peak for eating. At their best the flesh is a consistent texture all the way through and squeaks a little as it is cut. Once they start to go over they lose their solidity, and become yellow or brown – not so good. Really old ones are like a dried up brown bag and puff spores like some gothic talc dispenser at the slightest touch, which is what they are really all about as a fungal reproductive organ.
Cooking Giant Puffball
Once home, the puffball needs only a quick wipe over to remove dirt. It can be stored in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
Collect the other ingredients: Fresh garlic and rosemary (ours came straight from the garden), olive oil, salt and pepper and your favourite oil for frying (I used goat’s ghee which burns less readily than with olive oil).
Crush the peeled garlic cloves with a little salt to make a paste. Add a little olive oil.
Cut the puffball into half inch (1cm) thick slices. Each slice may need cutting in half to fit in your pan, but they do shrink a little during cooking.
Spread the crushed garlic paste on both sides of the puffball slices. Add chopped fresh rosemary. Small sprig tips can be pushed into the flesh.
Heat a large pan with plenty of butter, ghee or other fat of your choice. Fry for a few minutes on medium heat.
Turn and fry on the other side for another minute or two. They should develop a nice colour. Don’t overdo it or you will burn the garlic.
That’s it! They are ready to serve.
I made scrambled egg to go with them, along with some smoked salmon. We had it for Sunday brunch for two. Delicious.
The remaining 3/4 of the puffball went in the fridge and was cooked in a similar way over the next few days with our evening meals: once as a side dish interleaved with sliced fried aubergine (egg plant), and today with roast duck and salad.
Tomorrow I’m going to try the last of my giant puff ball with fried halloumi. I think they will go together really nicely.
After that. Who knows how long I’ll have to wait to come across another Jiggly-puff ball. But I’ll be ready to catch it when I do…