Is this the most superior wild Irish mushroom?

Cooked in duck fat, the golden chanterelle provides a superior taste of warm earthiness

Chanterelles form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of these trees and help the trees talk to each other. Photograph: iStock

How did we, as a culture, come to forget or overlook wild mushrooms? Of course, we picked field mushrooms and fried them with garlic and thyme. But what about all the wonderful wild mushrooms that are in our forests? From ceps to wood blewits and golden chanterelles to girolles, puff balls, birch bolete and many more. Where were all these mushrooms during my childhood?

Why were we afraid to eat them, while our European neighbours feasted on these marvellous mycelia? Or was it something else, a question of land perhaps, a legacy of colonialism and the Famine. In truth, the legacy of this period of time on our food culture of the present day has still not been adequately assessed.

Care should always be taken to ensure that mushrooms picked in the wild are safe to eat.

How to make wild mushrooms with duck fat and thyme

My favourite way to cook wild mushrooms is to fry them in duck fat. Of course, a nice Irish rapeseed oil would work as well if you’re vegetarian or vegan, but for me it’s the meaty richness of duck fat that lends these magical mushrooms a superior taste of warm earthiness.


The most superior wild Irish mushroom is, in my opinion, the golden chanterelle. This unique yellowish and resplendent mushroom pops its head up through woodland foliage and under hardwood trees, such as oak, maple, white pine, poplar and birch. Chanterelles form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of these trees.

To fry the yellow chanterelles, clean them with a brush but don’t wash them. The drier these mushrooms are the better. There is also no need to chop the mushrooms. Chopping most wild mushrooms is an ungodly action. Just gently tear them. Melt a tablespoon of duck fat in a pan. When it is hot add the mushrooms and toss together with the fat. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme and a little butter. The whole process should take no more than a minute. Finish with a little sea salt and eat immediately.