It’s been something of a crazy week for me. So much so, that we nicknamed it ‘Hell Week’ in our house. It started with the wild food walk I ran on the 24th of October.
Then to Blackburn and back to lead a private Wild Food Walk & Feast for The Idle Women:
Then I baked more Gluten Free cakes and Damson Cheesecake Brownies than I ever thought possible so I could cater for the Sneaky Experience Halloween Film Showings at Kirkstall Abbey from Thursday to Sunday (which involved standing in the ruins from 11am until 9:30pm every day) and had a stall at the Saturday and Sunday Kirkstall Deli Market.
Things are mostly back to normal now and I’ve gone from being at Zombie-level exhausted to my regular, every day level of working-mum-with-a-toddler level of tired.
It’s pretty amazing but it’s almost like the fungi have been following me around this autumn. In the 2 walks I ran last week, we picked Butter Waxcaps, Blackening Waxcaps, Snowy Waxcaps, Brown Birch Boletes, Shaggy Parasols, Wood Blewits, Field Blewits, Puffballs, Oyster mushrooms, Clouded Agarics, Jelly Ears and Honey Fungus. We’ve been inundated with gorgeous and delicious mushrooms and I seem to see them wherever I go. But none more so than the field blewit.
Field Blewits are gorgeous. With their almost suede looking tops and those gorgeous purple stems that have given them the name Blue Legs, they really are something to look at. That paired with the fact that they are incredibly common (at least where I live) and fruit prolifically when many other mushrooms have knocked it in the head, they seem like a dream food yes? No!
Until last week, you could have offered me a huge basket of field blewits and, after making childish noises at you in the vein of ‘bleurgh’ and ‘yuk’, I’d have handed them back.
People who have met me will know how I will never say no to free food (hence my obsession with foraging), but I would have said no to those field blewits.
There is just something about their fragrance that permeates whatever you cook them in and just tastes…(at least as far as I was concerned)…revolting. But being someone who cannot say no to free food, and given they seem to grow everywhere around me, I decided I’d give them one last chance.
So I put out a challenge via my Facebook page and on various Facebook groups, asking people for ideas on how to cook the blasted things. At the end of that, one common theme emerged: slow cooking. Be it in a stew or casserole or pie, slow cooking was the key. So I decided I’d give it a go.
I made a slow cooked mutton, buckwheat and wood blewit stew flavoured with winter savory. And you know what? It was fantastic! I’ve now made it at 3 different events and will happily eat second and even third helpings. So I decided I had to share it!
I use mutton neck chops for this because not only are they the cheapest cut of meat my butcher (the wonderfully moustachioed Abu) sells, they’re also one of the most flavoursome!
Winter savory is an amazing herb that has a flavour somewhere in between rosemary and thyme. If you can’t get hold of some, use a combination of those 2 herbs.
Slow cooked Mutton, Field Blewit and Buckwheat Stew with Winter Savory
1 large red onion, chopped
225g field blewits, chopped
750g mutton neck chops
5 cloves garlic, sliced thinly or minced
10 large sprigs winter savory, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
500g baby new potatoes
1/2 cup raw buckwheat (toasted works too but I prefer the raw stuff. Polish supermarkets are great places to pick up whole buckwheat at a reasonable price)
1tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp marigold stock powder
Salt to taste
Brown your mutton chops in a little olive oil in a frying pan and transfer to your slow cooker.
In the same pan, fry your onions until brown and a bit caramelised. Add garlic and blewits and cook until the blewits have dried up a bit. Add to your meat along with your remaining veg and add as much hot water as you can (at least 2.5 litres). Cook on low for 6 hours. Once done, taste for seasoning and add salt if required. Buckwheat swells a lot so if you’ve only got a small slow cooker, put in everything but the buckwheat and baby potatoes. Cook those separately in a bigger pot and combine the two later.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, cook it in a lidded casserole pot on the lowest heat of your smallest ring on the cooker or in the oven for around 3 hours. It’s not as energy efficient but still tastes fab!
This quantity makes around 10 smallish servings as a starter or a full meal for less.
Substitutions: Try this stew with venison, pheasant or rabbit for an even wilder meal. And if you don’t eat meat, increase the quantities of vegetables and buckwheat and add a little bit of miso paste for a scrummy vegan alternative.
I will be serving this stew at my wild food walk this Saturday where the menu is currently:
Georgian Cheese Pie stuffed with Ricotta, Mozarella and Feta and Horn of Plenty Mushrooms
Slow Cooked Mutton, Buckwheat and Field Blewit Stew
Shaggy Inkcap and Horn of Plenty Soup
Damson Cheesecake Brownies
Water Kefirs including Lime Blossom and Quince & Vanilla
Bottomless Tea, Coffee & Hot Chocolate
And of course, we will be cooking up what we pick together on the day.
There are still a few places remaining which can be booked through The Wild Food Courses page.