Porridge of Steel-cut Oats and Maple with Lichen, Spring Creek Mushrooms, and Smoked Mascarpone Cheese
For the Spring Creek Mushrooms:
Cover the wood ear mushrooms with water in a pot and bring the mixture to a simmer over a medium heat. Remove from the heat, allowing the liquid to cool with the wood ear mushrooms in it. Strain the mushrooms, and reserve the liquid as a stock. Blot the oyster mushrooms on towels to remove excess water. Tear them length-wise into equal pieces, sear them in olive oil, and finish with butter and a lot of whole herbs. It’s very important to get a nice color on the mushrooms to help highlight the nutty aroma and enhance the woody flavors. Examine the puff ball mushrooms. Cutting them in half should expose solid white flesh. If it’s discolored, discard the mushroom. Brown the puff ball mushrooms in butter. Set all the mushrooms aside.
For the Porridge of Steel-cut Oats and Maple Syrup:
In a heavy-gauged pot, sweat the shallot in 50 grams of the unsalted butter. Add the garlic confit and stir in the oats. Using the risotto method, coat the oats with the butter and lightly toast. Deglaze the pan with half the maple mixture and stir. Add the mushroom stock a little bit a time until the oats are cooked. Once the oats are cooked through, add the mushrooms.
To Assemble and Serve:
Add the lichen and 50 grams of the unsalted butter to the porridge. Stir and allow the porridge to rest for a couple of minutes off the heat. Add the smoked mascarpone cheese and incorporate it thoroughly. Add the chives, and check the seasoning. Garnish with wild edibles that are found in the same area as the lichen and mushrooms such as wood sorrel, chickweed, or wild cress.
* Rucker gets his oats from Homestead Gristmill in Waco, TX.