When my friend Paul Tawczynski suggested I join him and his daughters, Corrie and Avery, for some mushroom foraging near his family’s farm in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, I didn’t think much about it. I mean, how exciting could mushroom gathering be?
But as I learned, foraging can be a blast—sort of like an easter egg hunt for adults—not to mention a free way to benefit from nature’s bounty and get in touch with your hunter-gatherer self.
Paul and his family are well attuned to the land and waters of their home in southern Berkshire County, as you would expect of family that has farmed this fertile region since the 1960s.
After gathering some apples and the small entoloma mushrooms in the hemlock and oak forest, we set our sights on bigger game: a big, leafy mushroom known as hen of the woods, which grows around the base of mature oak trees.
Obviously, you need know a few things about mushrooms before you start gathering and eating them, to be certain you don’t pick anything poisonous. If in doubt, don’t eat it.
Baskets brimming with wild mushrooms, we returned to the farm, where Paul cooked up a big batch of what he calls “boneless mushroom wings.” Dipped in ranch dressing and hot sauce, they were delicious! What a fitting way to end a successful afternoon of foraging in the Berkshire woods.
Paul’s Boneless Mushroom Wings Recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tbsp condensed chicken base or boullion
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tbsp granulated onion
2 tbsp celery salt
wash mushroom thoroughly and separate the “caps” from the main stem
dredge caps in batter
heat oil until smoking then add battered caps
cook until crispy, remove from pan, and place on paper napkins to drain oil
serve with ranch dressing or hot sauce