The other day, we were over visiting Pat and Jack's place. They are our friends who decided to adopt little Willie (the goat in the sweater). It didn't take much convincing. All we had to do was let them bottle feed him as a baby one time.
They live in a beautiful isolated log cabin in the woods that Jack made himself after their original home burned down.
Jack said, "Hey do you guys like puffballs?"
I said, "I do, but Deb won't eat 'em."
"Boy there's a dandy one over under that tree."
So we sauntered over through the veil of mosquitoes, and sure enough, there was a giant puffball about the size of a soccer ball just as white and prime for the pickin' as I've ever seen.
"Wow. She's a beauty. Aren't you guys going to eat it?"
"Naw. Pat thinks they're poison."
"Poison? They're only poison if you season them with cyanide in the fryin' pan. Heck. If you don't want it. I'll take it."
"Be my guest. There's another one up in the garden that Pat picked a few days ago and is using it for a decoration. Take it, too."
So, loving to partake of the bounties of nature, as I always do, I picked up both puffballs, gently laid them in the bed of the truck and headed down the drive. As we were departing, I heard Pat shouting after us, "You're gonna die!"
Well, let me tell you. Here's how to prepare them without fear of dying.
Puffballs don't store well fresh, so you should get them cooked as soon as you can. First you peel the rubbery skin off. Brush the loose dirt off, but don't wash them. If water gets inside, they'll get mushy. They should be as white as a marshmallow. You can see that the one that Pat picked earlier was starting to turn yellow on the surface. I discard any part that's not white. Then you slice them and dice them into 3/4 inch cubes.
And saute them in butter and bacon grease. They will shrink down to about half the size, like any fresh mushroom. One giant puffball makes a big batch, so you can freeze the cooked cubes in a freezer bag for use in anything that you would normally use button mushrooms in.
Let me tell you. If you've never eaten puffball mushrooms, you're not missing much. It's about like eating tofu. They'll take on whatever flavor you are cooking them in. But heck. You've gotta do it at least once in your life so you can say you're cool!
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