I think the best way to deal with fungi, generally, is quick and simple. This particularly applies to shaggy ink caps. There are two reasons why – correct me if I’m wrong – you’ll never find fresh shaggys on a restaurant/bistro menu. They deliquesce (dissolve to inky black liquid) very quickly after picking and there is a widely held belief that alcohol should be avoided for several days each side of eating. I haven’t checked the alcohol theory myself, but I’ll let you know if I spew after my wine tomorrow evening [I didn’t]. The soup’s already eaten, and delicious it was, too. A delicate, silvery grey liquid with equally delicate flavour.
Shaggys can be found in woodland, on path and roadside verges and are commonly seen, despite their apparent fragility, forcing their way up through roads and pavements The most fruitful patch I ever found was on a bank on the edge of a Tesco car park.
Shaggy Ink Caps
Salt & pepper
First, age and condition. If you come across a growth of shaggys with firm, closed caps as above, pick and get them to the kitchen as quick as you can. Don’t make the mistake I once did and think, “Ooh, I’ll come back for those tomorrow,” as tomorrow they’ll look like the three rear bodies below, which are past their best.
Remove and discard the stems, check for creatures and flick off any earth then chop to desired size. They’ll shrink a little on cooking. Put in a small pan and pour in milk to about ½ or ¾ way up the fungi pieces. Add crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste with half your chopped parsley. Carefully bring to the boil then barely simmer for 5 minutes. Now you have a choice. Some recommend removing the poached fungi and discarding the poaching liquid. I favour serving and eating the lot as soup. Sprinkle with the rest of your parsley.
If you’re lucky, the spot where you picked this crop will yield another in a week or ten days.