Agaricus bitorquis

A bitorquisUrban Mushroom

Order Agaricales, family Agaricaceae 

CAP FIRM, OFTEN DIRTY

Cap:  4-15 cm wide; broadly convex with central depression; gray to light brown, often dirty, fibrous; inrolled edge of cap when young; flesh firm, does not stain red

GILLS GRAY-PINK THEN CHOCOLATE-BROWN

Gills:  free; close together, narrow; grayish-pink becoming red brown to chocolate brown

SHORT STALK WITH DOUBLE RING

Stalk:  2-5 cm long, 1-3 cm wide; smooth

Ring:  thick, prominent bands flaring upward and drooping downward

A bitorquisSPORE PRINT BLACKISH BROWN

ON HARD GROUND ALONG ROADS, IN PLAYGROUNDS, OFTEN FRUITING UNDERGROUND IN SPRING

EDIBLE, CHOICE

Lookalikes:

Meadow mushroom (A. campestris) -- fragile ring, pink gills when youn

A. bernaradii – cap and stalk tissue stain reddish-brown, briny odor, sheathing ring

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE TO KNOW....

Some boxers can split planks of wood, but this mushroom can elevate asphalt.  In fact, it seems to enjoy the rough life, preferring hard-packed soils (paths, roads).  Often it cracks the ground without fully emerging into the view of the urban gatherer, who is thus forced to dig for it.

Once, a friend of ours was quietly collecting this mushroom in a yard when a women emerged from the house, grabbed his gourmet mushrooms, and crushed them, apparently intending to protect him from mushroom poisoning.  She yelled, "I'll have nothing to do with this."

Like other shrooms, the urban mushroom is victim of "grassification."  Tomi Taggart used to collect many urban mushrooms on a hard-packed trail along a road—until it was grassified into a park.  "Now, it's a sad, sad place with no mushrooms coming up," laments Tomi.

PENELOPE'S PANTRY

This recipe is so easy and good that I feel a slight twinge of guilt when I receive compliments.  You can take the time and trouble to make the stuffing from scratch, but there is a very good spinach soufflé in the freezer section at your grocery store.  This will cut an hour off your prep time, and folks really won't know the difference if you bury the soufflé package in the bottom of your garbage bin.

Stuffed Urban Mushroom Caps

20 urban mushrooms  (2" caps), stems  removed and finely chopped

2 T diced shallots or green onions

1 c melted butter

1 pkg. frozen spinach soufflé, defrosted

1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, juice squeezed out

¾ c grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

¼ c grated Romano or Parmesan cheese for topping

½ c lightly toasted, chopped pine nuts for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.  Dip the raw mushroom caps in the melted butter to coat them.  Set aside.

With the remaining butter, sauté the shallots and mushroom stems until lightly cooked.  In a medium bowl, mix the spinach soufflé, spinach (which has all the juice squeezed out), the sautéed shallots and mushroom stems and ¾ cup grated cheese. 

Spoon the mixture into the caps of butter-coated mushrooms and arrange in baking dish so their sides to not touch.  Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup grated cheese over the stuffing and bake for about 18 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Garnish with the chopped pine nuts.  Serves 10 as an appetizer or 4 as a side dish.

 

 


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