Meadow Mushroom, Field Mushroom
Botanical: Agaricus campestris
Description: Cap: 3 to 11 cm; convex to broadly convex, occasionally nearly flat; whitish; smooth and glossy to fibrous to nearly wooly or scaly. Gills: free from the stem; deep pink becoming brown and then dark chocolate brown in maturity; crowded; covered with a thin white partial veil when in the button stage. Stem: 2 to 6 cm long; 1 to 2.5 cm thick; more or less equal; sometimes tapering slightly to base; with a quickly collapsing white ring; not bruising yellow. Flesh: thick and white throughout; not bruising yellow anywhere, even in the base of the stem; very rarely discoloring a pinkish wine color in wet weather. Spore print: chocolate brown. Odor and taste: pleasant and “mushroomy”.
Habitat: Growing alone, gregariously, or sometimes in fairy rings, in meadows, fields, lawns, and grassy areas; late fall to early winter.
Primary Keys: grassland habitat, white cap, pink gills turning chocolate brown with age, fragile membrane and faint ring, “mushroom” smell (not phenolic or anise), not staining yellow.
Notes: this is the most widely eaten European and American wild mushroom and is the closest cousin to commercial A. bisporus mushrooms, but with a much better flavor.
The primary keys are critical for safe identification. A different odor or yellow staining could be a mildly toxic Agaricus, and white gills and/or a faint volva could be a deadly Amanita.
Afelia (traditional dish from Cyprus)
1 lb. lean pork, cut into 1″ cubes
1 lb. new yellow potatoes
1 med onion, sliced
1 lb. Agaricus campestris buttons, cleaned and halved
(or white or crimini commercial A. bisporus)
6 T. vegetable oil
1.5 C. good red wine
2 T. coriander seed, well crushed
1 stick cinnamon
salt and fair amount of pepper
- Marinate the pork overnight in the refrigerator with the wine, coriander, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
- Drain meat and pat dry, reserving the marinade.
- Heat 2 T. oil in a large deep skillet (not cast iron) with fitting lid.
- Add the whole potatoes and lightly brown on all sides over medium-high heat. Remove potatoes and set aside.
- Add 2 more T. oil to pan and brown the pork on all sides. Remove pork and set aside with potatoes.
- Add last 2 T. oil and saute the onion until almost browned, then add the mushrooms and saute 2-3 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low, and add pork, potatoes and reserved marinade back to pan.
- Cover and simmer 45 minutes or until pork and potatoes are tender and sauce is very thick.
- Correct seasoning and serve with a tossed green salad.