Rif Mountain Omelet with Wild Mushrooms

Recipe courtesy of Morocco (Chronicle Books, 2012), by Jeff Koehler

Reprinted with permission from the publisher

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INGREDIENTS

Chefs Note: After a soggy winter’s morning hunting mushrooms in the cork- and pine-covered Rif Mountains with a couple of local guides, my family and I returned to a rural lodge called Auberge Dardara with owner Jaber El Habibi. Our wicker baskets brimmed with three of the three dozen varieties of edible wild mushrooms found in the nearby hills: chanterelles, meaty cèpes (porcini) with yellow-tinted undercaps, and a type of coral Ramaria the size of cauliflower and the color of wet hay. We happily passed our spoils to the chef.

After cleaning and slicing the mushrooms, he sautéed them hot and fast to sear in the juices, as flames shot up from the blackened skillet in the smoky kitchen. He whisked some eggs, seasoned them with healthy pinches of local herbs, and prepared a pair of divine omelets. A just reward for the drizzly hunt!

As the omelets need to be individually cooked, instructions below are given for a single wide, thin omelet. If preparing more than one, sauté the mushrooms by variety but cook the omelets individually.

  • 1/2 lb/225 g wild mushrooms of at least 2 or 3 varieties
  • 3 or 4 Tbsp California Olive Ranch extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or zaâtar (see below), plus more for garnishing
  • 1 unpeeled garlic clove
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnishing
  • 1 dried bay leaf

INSTRUCTIONS

Step 1: Keeping the mushroom varieties separate, brush them clean. Fill a bowl with water. Quickly dunk the mushrooms in a few changes of water just before cooking. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Quarter or slice the mushrooms depending on their shape.

Step 2: In a 10-in/25-cm skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of the oil until smoking. Add one mushroom variety, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and quickly sauté until the edges are golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add 1 Tbsp oil to the pan and sauté another mushroom variety. Repeat if needed for a third variety.

Step 3: In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until spongy. Stir in the 1 tsp oregano and a pinch of salt. Add three-fourths of the mushrooms and turn to coat. Gently crush the garlic under the heel of a palm or the side of a heavy knife.

Step 4:
Add 1 Tbsp oil and the garlic to the pan, and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove and reserve.

Step 5: Pour in the egg mixture. Immediately swirl the pan for a few seconds to keep the mixture from sticking as the eggs begin to set. Sprinkle the 1 Tbsp parsley over the top and season with salt and pepper. Place the bay leaf in the center. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the bottom is golden and the omelet is set but still moist, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not turn or stir the eggs; only swirl the pan from time to time to keep the omelet from sticking.

Step 6: Loosen the omelet with a thin spatula if necessary and slide onto a large, flat plate. Scatter the remaining mushrooms over the top along with a pinch of parsley and some oregano. Top with the reserved garlic clove, drizzle with olive oil, and serve immediately.

zaâtar: In the Middle East, zaâtar is a spice blend, but in Morocco, it’s a shrubby herb from the thyme and oregano family with slender leaves and clusters of purple flowers. Used in dried form, the tiny, flaky green leaves have a flavor more redolent of oregano than thyme. The best Moroccan zaâtar comes from the High Atlas. Substitute oregano or oregano with a pinch of thyme.

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