You might have heard that California has declared a drought disaster. To be sure, it’s been a tough mushroom season for my friends on the North Coast and up into southwestern Oregon. That’s where most of the circuit pickers gather every winter to harvest the big three: black trumpets, hedgehogs, and yellowfeet. It’s just about the only place in North America at this time of year with commercial quantities of mushrooms.
But not this year. Dry conditions have both commercial and recreational pickers going stir-crazy, contributing to an uptick in the recent phenomenon of “foraging wars” stories in the press as forest users compete for a pittance of fungi. The situation is exasperated in the Golden State, where land managers have seen fit to close large swaths of public land to foraging of any kind, recreational included.
Hopefully the recent rainstorms will mean a late winter flush, easing the fungal pain of Californians, if it’s not too late already. Luckily I have some packages of yellowfeet and black trumpets in the freezer.
The black trumpet has always been one of my favorites of the edible fungi; it’s only in recent years that I’ve come around to appreciating the yellowfoot for its own merits and not just as a poor cousin to the trumpet. Yellowfeet, in particular, work well with this dish. They complement the sweetness of the Marsala wine as well as the scallops, and they add body to the sauce. The cheese adds some oomph, and helps thicken the sauce, though you can get away without it. If you have the time, make your own pasta, or buy the fresh stuff.
9 oz fettuccine
1/2 lb scallops (or more, to taste)*
1/2 lb wild mushroom, chopped
1/4 cup diced shallot
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 cup beef stock
1 cup heavy cream (or less)
1/2 cup grated parmesan (optional)
chopped parsley for garnish
salt and pepper
* I used a half-pound of small bay scallops plus a few large sea scallops.
1. Boil water for pasta.
2. Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. Pan-sear in 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Remove to bowl.
3. Saute shallots in remaining 2 tablespoons butter until soft. Add mushrooms and cook together a few minutes, cooking off liquid.
4. De-glaze with 1/2 cup Marsala. Cook until Marsala is nearly evaporated. Add beef stock and reduce by half. Lower heat to medium and slowly stir in heavy cream to taste.
5. While sauce is reducing, cook pasta according to instructions.
6. Stir in optional parmesan cheese and return scallops to sauce. Adjust seasonings.
7. Spoon sauce over pasta and garnish with fresh parsley.