Brighter than a button: Skye Gyngell’s magic mushroom recipes

This is no more earthy pleasure than new-season mushrooms. But don't limit yourself to the familiar varieties, says Skye Gyngell. Dig around for girolles, and glory in their pungent meatiness

This is the season for mushrooms, and I use them as often as I can from September right through to mid-December. I love their pungent, earthy flavour and slightly meaty texture. Quick, hot cooking with as little adornment as possible works best for me. Girolles are one of the earliest mushrooms we see here, appearing towards the end of August. With their orange trumpets with long, elegant stems, they look as beautiful cooked as they do raw.

Mushrooms always have a much better texture and flavour if you leave them alone during cooking. A quick toss halfway through is plenty; too much stirring and they will release too much of their juice, resulting in a watery texture.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627,

Girolles and eggs on toast

Mushrooms and eggs are a classic combination; the girolles make it a little more elegant. Lovely for brunch on an autumn Sunday, or equally good as a light supper.

Serves 2

500g/1lb girolles
50g/2oz unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, fairly finely chopped
2 free-range eggs

Pick over the girolles with your fingers, removing any bits of grass that may be lurking among them, then wipe gently with a clean dry cloth. Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add the butter.

Once the butter is foaming, add the mushrooms and season generously with salt and pepper. Turn up the heat and allow the mushrooms to cook for three to four minutes, tossing them once or twice during cooking. Add the garlic halfway through and once the pan has come off the heat, stir in the chopped parsley.

Meanwhile, cook the eggs, by placing a small non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add butter and allow it to melt. Crack in the eggs and cook to your preference – I like a firm white with a soft yolk centre. Serve on top of a slice of toast or on its own, as you prefer.

Corn and girolles

I like to serve this dish just as it is – two delicious ingredients in season at the same time.

Serves 2

2 ears of corn, husks removed
1 dried chilli, left whole
Water to cover
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar
50g/2oz unsalted butter
1 tbsp cream

For the mushrooms

500g/1lb girolles
50g/2oz unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves only, finely chopped

Start by removing the kernels from the corn – it is easiest to do this by standing the corn upright and slicing down using a sharp knife. Rinse the kernels and place in a saucepan along with the dried chilli.

Pour over enough water to literally just cover the corn, add a good pinch of salt and place over a medium heat. Cook the corn until tender – this will take about 15 minutes. When tender, remove from the stove and drain. Discard the chilli and return the corn to the pan, return to a low heat and add the sugar and butter. Once the butter has melted, add the cream, stir well and cook for two minutes more.

While you are doing this, cook the mushrooms as per the eggs recipe (above). Season to taste. Spoon the corn into bowls, place the mushrooms on top and serve.

Girolles with spinach

This is a lovely dish to eat on its own – both light and rich at the same time. The juice from the mushrooms wraps around the spinach leaves, which absorb all their earthy flavours. This simple dish is also a very good accompaniment for game – pigeon or guinea fowl especially.

Serves 2

500g/1lb spinach
500g/1lb girolles
50g/2oz unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
A drop or two of lemon juice

Wash the spinach well under cold running water and place in a saucepan. Put over a medium heat and cook until the spinach has just wilted. Drain and allow to cool to room temperature. Once the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much excess water as you can. Pick over the girolles and gently wipe clean. Put the butter in a saucepan and, when hot, add the mushrooms and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes without stirring, then add the spinach.

Stir well to combine and cook for a further couple of minutes, adding the garlic halfway through. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add a squeeze or two of lemon juice and serve piping hot.

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