Puffballs seem to come and go in one’s life. For the last decade in our Devon garden, each autumn, within a few feet of the compost heap, several specimens of Lycoperdum giganteum, the giant puffball, have appeared mysteriously, almost overnight. Some of my friends in the Ardèche say that puffballs, known as la bessigne or la vesse de loup géante, are now less common than a generation ago. But when they do appear, they are seized upon and have even been fought over in the past. The clever trick here is the initial blanching which shrinks the fungi and intensifies the flavour.
Cut the puffball into slices, remove the skin and cut into large dice. Blanch in boiling salted water for 5–10 minutes until shrunk. Drain well.
Heat the fat with the butter and toss in the blanched puffball. Sauté until lightly browned. Add the garlic and parsley and stir until cooked.
Serve straight away; it is particularly good with roast chicken.
© 1987 Geraldene Holt. All rights reserved.