It’s not often that I write a blog containing multiple recipes, but I’ve been eating so many damn mushrooms lately, I had to make an exception.
Also, does anyone read this part of the blog? When I’m looking for a recipe I tend to scroll through all the yapping and go straight to the good stuff. Kinda like when I watch porn. (just kidding mom, I don’t watch porn)
Mushrooms hold a special place in my heart. They’re earthy, meaty, versatile and contain that elusive umami flavour that most people hadn’t heard of until recently. Umami is the 5th taste. Salty, sweet, sour, bitter, UMAMI. There’s a chemical reaction that happens with certain foods on the tongue making them have an extra je ne sais quoi. This article from the New Yorker describes it pretty well:
Umami or not, adult Julia has always been a fan of mushrooms. When I was a snot nosed, know-nothing child, I poo-poo’d the fungi. I honestly think I didn’t like certain foods as a kid because my friends thought they were gross. Or they hadn’t been cooked correctly. I remember eating small sea scallops and hating them so much that I gave them to the neighbourhood cat who ate them and barfed.
There are so many mushrooms out there that I didn’t even know existed. I usually stick to the typical white button mushrooms or cremini because they’re widely available and cheap in comparison to the other guys. The other guys being porcini, chantrelle, morel, shitake, oyster, enoki etc. Sounds like members of a tasty, badass gang. So now that we’re acquainted with our new mushroom friends, let me tell you about the shroomy delights I made for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I didn’t eat all of these on the same day because I didn’t want to be the first person to OD on non-magic mushrooms.
I fell in love with a new mushroom that I got in my CSA basket, Farm Fresh to You. Beech Mushrooms. I didn’t know these existed and they are my new favourite. Look how cute they are!
Just a cluster of joy. You cut off the end that connects them and then separate all the beautiful little babies.
I sautéed them in a little butter and the aromas were intoxicating. That’s a pretentious description, but it’s the truth. They smell SO good. Almost like you’ve deglazed the pan with wine or sherry. After I sautéed them I added them to a simple omelette with green onion and goat cheese. Wow. The texture is chewy but tender and they really hold up in various dishes. Some mushrooms, like portabellos, tend to get soggy if they aren’t cooked correctly but these guys are always ready for their close up. Do a quick google search to see where you can find them in your area!
This recipe was inspired from Food52’s roasted mushrooms with sherry and creamy polenta. I went out and bought a pack of creminis and shitakes. In a perfect world I would have had the time and patience to make polenta, but I wanted to make this dish for lunch. I opted for spaghettini instead. You know, a nice light lunch of roasted mushrooms and PASTA. Don’t judge me.
pack of cremini mushrooms (or button)
pack of shitake mushrooms
quater red onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 dry white wine (in a pinch, use whatever wine you have)
couple glugs of olive oil
2 tsp dried thyme (or you could put a couple sprigs fresh)
salt and pepper to taste
Wash and quarter your mushrooms. For the shitakes, remove the stems and save them for later. They’re tough and you don’t want to eat them. I have a big tupperware in my fridge that I put most of my leftover vegetable ends into. Carrot peels, celery ends, onion nubs etc. Then at some point I made a big pot of veggie broth with it. No waste! and shitake stems pack a lot of punch and make for a very flavourful broth. Add all the ingredients to a pan or corning ware, cover with tinfoil or lid, and cook at 325 for 30 minutes.
The mushrooms will have created a beautiful liquid. Strain that into a small sauce pan, jack the heat up for 450 and roast the mushrooms, uncovered, for another 20 minutes, stirring halfway. While your mushrooms are crisping up, simmer that mushroom liquid so it reduces and start boiling your pasta water. I used spaghettini because it’s nice and thin and cooks up quick. Similar versions like vermicelli or angel hair would work nicely too.
Once the sauce has reduced, add a pad of butter right before you’re ready to plate. Put your mushrooms on top of the pasta, and drizzle that beautiful, silky mushroom reduction on top. A little squeeze of lemon, sprinkle of sea salt and twist of ground pepper will make the whole thing pop. Delicious!
Now, obviously you could have had that pasta dish for dinner, but I had shows out of town all weekend and needed to make it for lunch before my mushrooms turned to mush.
For dinner a week ago I made something that should be called “working with odds and ends in my fridge chicken, mushroom and wine…stew?” I don’t know if I’d even call this a stew but it was delicious.
Slow cooker chicken, mushroom and wine stew
2-3 carrots, cut into thick sticks
Cluster of Beech Mushrooms, separated (or sliced button/cremini)
1 onion, diced (I used red because it’s what I had)
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I only had 2 but I recommend using more!)
2-3 cups of wine (I literally just dumped in leftover red AND white that I had)
2-3 tsp dried thyme of couple sprigs fresh (rosemary would be nice too)
2 russet potatoes (or whatever potato you got!)
dusting of flour
salt and pepper
- In a heavy pan, sauté onion in butter and oil until translucent. Transfer to slow cooker. In same pan, sauté mushrooms for a few minutes, adding more butter and oil if needed. Transfer to slow cooker.
- Put a light dusting of flour onto a plate and lightly dredge you chicken thighs. (This isn’t absolutely necessary if you’re celiac and/or lazy.) Fry on each side (in same pan) for a minute or 2 on each side so they get some colour. Transfer to slow cooker
- Add carrots, wine, thyme, salt and pepper to slow cooker. Depending on how much chicken/veg you use, adjust the liquid ratio so it’s just covering everything.
- Cook on low for 4-5 hours
- Serve over roughly mashed potatoes. (I left the skin on for texture and nutrients!)
And voila! A delicious fall meal that is so comforting and full of flavour. It’s a simple way to use up any leftovers in your fridge. You could add some chicken or veg broth if you have it. Any odds and ends of wine. I recommend always having a pack of chicken thighs in your fridge or freezer. They’re inexpensive and stay moist in the slow cooker. You could easily used cubed stewing beef instead of chicken or parsnips instead of carrots. Unless you hate mushrooms, (in which case…why are you reading this blog?!) I urge you to keep the mushrooms in and find the beech ones if you can! They’re just so special.
Now go eat this! AND SHUDDAAAAAPP! XOXOXO