Recipes with Julie Van Rosendaal: Mimicking meat with mushrooms

You may be coming across more mushrooms than usual at the market these days, as varieties from chanterelle to chicken of the woods come into season.

If you’re a mushroom fan, it’s always a good idea to expand your horizons. Though mushrooms of all kinds are delicious on pizza, in pasta, or sautéed, creamed and spooned over toast, they can also mimic meat in dishes like fried chicken sandwiches and calamari.

To make creamed mushrooms on toast: Slice or chop and sauté any variety of mushroom (or a combination of them) in oil and/or butter, with garlic if you like, and perhaps some finely chopped rosemary or thyme, seasoning with salt as you go.

As they release their moisture and start to brown, add a pour of cream and cook until it reduces to your liking. Spoon over toast.

To make mushroom orzo in risotto style: Slice or chop and sauté any variety of mushroom (or a combination of them) in oil and/or butter, with garlic if you like, and perhaps some finely chopped rosemary.

As they release their moisture and start to brown, add another chunk of butter and add as much dry orzo as you’d like to the pan; cook for a minute or two, until pale golden and nutty-smelling.

Add stock (any kind) and cook until the orzo is tender, adding more stock (or water) as needed. Finish with parmesan cheese, or stir in a handful of fresh basil.

You can bread these mushrooms just like you would a piece of chicken. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

Here’s what we ate for breakfast on the Calgary Eyeopener this week — a few new ideas for the mushrooms you forage from the local farmers’ market or grocery store.

Fried Chicken of the Woods

Chicken (or hen) of the woods are substantial fungi, which grow like shelves on tree trunks.

Their shape and meatiness make them perfect for breading and frying schnitzel-style to make sandwiches or even eat like nuggets or fingers.

The quantity of ingredients you’ll need will depend on how many mushrooms you’re cooking, but it’s easy to add more flour and panko as needed, and add dry herbs and grated parmesan too, if you need.

To make buffalo sauce, mix about equal parts Frank’s RedHot sauce and melted butter.

Mushrooms can bring lots of flavor to a dish, including to this “chicken of the woods” sandwich. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

ingredients

  • Chicken of the woods mushrooms
  • All-purpose flour
  • Panko or other dry breadcrumbs
  • Salt (or garlic salt)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Egg or JustEgg
  • Canola or other vegetable oil, for cooking
  • Butter, for cooking (optional)

Wash and pat dry your mushrooms and if the pieces are large, cut or break them into pieces about the size you like.

In a shallow bowl, combine about equal parts flour and panko, and season with salt and pepper.

Break an egg into another dish and stir it up with a fork (or pour in some JustEgg).

Douse your mushroom pieces in the flour mixture to coat, then in egg to coat, and then back into the flour mixture to coat well, pressing any damp pieces onto the surface.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add a generous pour of oil (and a chunk of butter too, if you like).

Cook the mushroom pieces until deep golden on both sides, pressing flat with a spatula if you need to.

It should take about five minutes.

Serve with buffalo sauce or on soft buns with lettuce, pickles and mayo, or whatever condiments you like.

Oyster Mushroom “Calamari”

Mushrooms make an amazing sub-in for squid in calamari; king oyster (also known as king trumpet) mushrooms are often used for their thick stalks, which can be sliced, and a hole can be cut through to mimic squid rings.

You can do the same with regular (more common) oyster mushrooms — the stems mimic calamari tentacles, and the caps can be cut with the wide and narrow ends of a large icing bag tip to make rings too.

Mushrooms can be very versatile, whether you roast them, fry them or sauté them. (Julie Van Rosendaal)

ingredients

  • Oyster or king trumpet mushrooms
  • Plain yogurt (dairy or plant-based)
  • i am willow
  • Garlic (fresh or granulated)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Panko or other dry breadcrumbs
  • Canola or other vegetable oil, for cooking
  • Salt
  • Tzatziki, garlic sauce, garlic aioli or other sauce, for dipping (optional)
  • lemon wedges

To prepare oyster mushrooms, cut off the larger caps and either cut a hole in the middle with a sharp paring knife, or cut them into rounds with the large end of a large piping bag tip, then cut a hole in the middle with the smaller end (save the holes).

Separate and trim the stems so you have some straight-up stems and some little clusters of the tinier stems.

Put some yogurt into a shallow bowl and season with soy sauce and garlic (you could add a bit of sriracha or other flavors here, too).

Add the mushrooms and stir to coat.

Leave for 20 minutes or so to marinate, if you like.

When you’re ready to cook, put about equal parts flour and panko into a shallow bowl.

Lift the mushroom pieces out of the yogurt, letting any excess drip off, and dredge in the flour-panko mixture to coat.

In a heavy, shallow pot (an enamel coated Dutch oven is ideal), heat an inch or so of oil until a bit of crumbs sizzle when dropped in. If you have a thermometer, aim for about 375 F.

Cook the mushroom pieces, without crowding the pot, until golden and crisp.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate, and sprinkle with salt while they’re still warm.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges and your sauce of choice.

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