Bison Rib-eye Steak with Porcini Mushrooms

I’ll never forget the first time Nate King, the chef at Cache Cache in Aspen, took me foraging. There is a big difference between hiking to a destination, like a cabin or a peak, and walking while searching for food, hidden in the undergrowth. Looking specifically for mushrooms, knife in hand, feels elemental, and my senses are instantly engaged by the smell of Douglas firs, the rustling of leaves, and the crunching of pine needles under my feet. Nate has, over the years, developed an intuitive sense for finding mushrooms and other fungi, and he passed those skills on to me. Searching, smelling, and listening is a grounding experience that puts me right in the moment, and I find myself with an acute alertness to my environment, a sort of animal instinct I’d never experienced before.

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We drove all the way up Larkspur Mountain, past the little hamlet of Lenado, parked the car at a clearing, and entered the forest via a barely distinguishable trail. There were edible flowers and berries along the way, which we ate straight off the bushes as we headed toward a group of fallen trees. Soon we found the first mushroom, and, as Hendrix ran deeper into the forest, climbing over branches, roots, and rocks, he suddenly stopped and cried out: “Dad! Mom! Come quickly!”

I was afraid he’d spotted a bear cub or a snake, but instead he pointed at an enormous porcini mushroom the size of his head. We let him cut it out of the ground with his own knife, which, he later confessed, made him feel nervous but also grown up. Liloo, competing with her brother, tried pulling the mushrooms with her hands.

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We made a camp fire and cooked up a batch with just some butter and rosemary and ate it with some fresh baked flat bread. It was simple and delicious.

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But we weren’t done with our new found treasure. For dinner we ate Porcini mushrooms with bison steak which was so tasty.

Ribeye steak with porcini mushrooms

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups sliced fresh porcini mushrooms or 3 ounces dried porcini

2 tablespoons ghee or butter, plus extra for brushing on steaks

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/3 cup white wine for fresh mushrooms, ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons if using dried mushrooms

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, plus extra for the mushrooms

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus extra for the mushrooms

4 rib-eye bison steaks (see note)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

If using dried mushrooms, soak them in 2 cups warm water for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the mushrooms and reserve the liquid. If the mushrooms are gritty you can wash them after soaking and pour the soaking liquid through a coffee filter to remove the grit. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the soaking liquid.

Heat the ghee over high heat in a large skillet. Add the fresh/dried mushrooms and sear them undisturbed on one side until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the shallots and rosemary and sauté for about 2 more minutes, until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated.

Add the white wine and lemon juice. If using dried mushrooms add 1 tablespoon of the soaking liquid. Cook over high heat until the liquid reduces by one-third. Turn off the heat and swirl in the butter. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

Brush the steaks with some ghee and sprinkle with the ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Grill the steaks or sear them in a cast-iron pan over high heat to an internal temperature of 110°F to 115°F, about 5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the steak. Let the meat rest on a platter for 10 minutes before slicing.

Spread the mushroom sauce over the steaks. Drizzle the finished dish with olive oil before serving.

Note

The bison steaks can be replaced with any New York strip loin, bone-in rib-eye, T-bone, or tenderloin steaks.

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