Advertisements

The Fungus Among Us–Mushrooms And Other Smut

Mushrooms and Beef, Getting Cozy In The Skillet

The fungus among us–I got that from my dad.  That’s what he used to call mushrooms when I was a kid.  It’s no small wonder that I love them anyway.

Not so, my husband.  He will not, I repeat NOT eat mushrooms.  Unless they are battered and fried, and served with cream gravy.  That isn’t saying much though, because he would eat his own shoes if they were battered and fried, and served with cream gravy.

This goes back to what I have been saying all along…There aren’t so much foods that we don’t like, so much as we don’t like the idea of some of them. 

My husband is a scientist, so he doesn’t say “I don’t like mushrooms“.  He says “I don’t eat fungus.”  He won’t eat liver,  not because he doesn’t like the flavor–he’s never tasted it–but because “the liver’s job is to filter toxins from the body, why would I want to eat that?”  And he won’t tell you that he only eats white meat poultry.  He’ll tell you that he “only eats fast twitch muscle tissue“. Heck, when you put it like that, I don’t even want to eat white meat. 

Scientists…What are you gonna do with ’em? 

That brings me to the second instance of when my husband will eat mushrooms: when he doesn’t know he’s eating them.  It’s amazing how much they look, feel, and even taste like meat when they are finely chopped. 

But I don’t want them hidden.  I love them loud and proud, taking the spotlight on my plate.  Simply sautéed in olive oil, or stuffed, grilled, marinated, and even raw.

And there are so many different varieties of these delightful, edible fungi.

The white button mushrooms that everyone can buy in the grocery store are very mild.  Almost no flavor.  And I say that with all the love…Because they are so mild, and have such a tender texture, they readily absorb the flavors of whatever dish in which they find themselves, making them a great way to add bulk and texture to a recipe without dramatically changing the flavor.

Portobello, and baby bellas are a bit stronger, with a firm, meaty texture and flavor.  They are great sautéed in a bit of olive oil, or marinated and grilled.  The big ones serve as a frequent stand-in for meat patties in hamburgers.

There are porcini, woodears, shiitake, morels, crimini, oyster, enoki and chanterelle, which are available in many grocery stores.  The more exotic chicken-of-the-woods is so named because it tastes and even shreds like chicken meat.  As such, it is popular among vegetarians as a meat substitute. The hen-of-the-woods, or maitake, gets it’s name from it’s look, sort of like the feathery head of a hen. 

Truffles are a type of mushroom that grows underground.  They cannot be cultivated, so must be found growing wild.  Since they grow about one foot underground, and are undetectable to humans, specially trained dogs or pigs are used to locate them.  For these reasons, truffles may sell for thousands of dollars per pound.  Luckily, since they have a very strong flavor,  a little goes a long way.  They are typically shaved, sparingly, over pastas, salads, and mashed potatoes, or infused into oils to make their flavor stretch even further.

A fungus that is quickly gaining culinary ground is called Huitlacoche (WEET-la-coach-ay).  It is a fungus that grows on ears of corn that have not been treated for fungus, causing the kernels to swell and turn green-black in color. Rather than being considered a blight, It has long been considered a delicacy in Central America, where the Aztecs learned to cultivated it.  With a very deep, earthy, truffle like flavor, and due to the growing interest in diverse food sources, Huitlacoche is becoming popular outside of it’s home territory.It is also called corn smut, corn truffles, or corn mushrooms. 

There are some mushrooms, or “shrooms”  that are made into a hallucinogenic tea, but that is a post for someone else’s blog.

Whatever you call them, and wherever you find them, I love mushrooms.  I’ll have a plate of fungus please, with a side of smut.

A note of caution….The right kinds of mushrooms are both delicious and healthy.  The wrong kind can make you high, quite sick, or very dead.  Only experts can tell some of the dangerous varieties apart from the safe ones.  Unless you are such an expert, do not eat, or even touch, mushrooms that you find growing wild….

Beef and Mushroom Stoup

Beef Mushroom and Wild Rice “Stoup”, With Sherry and Cream

–serves 8

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 12 oz sliced fresh mushrooms*
  • ½ cup minced shallot
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced thin
  • 3 cups wild rice blend (I use brown, wild, red and black rices)
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 1 ½  pounds roast beef (from your grocery deli, or leftover), cut in 1/4 “ cubes
  • 1 cup sherry
  • 2 cups fat-free half and half

In a large stockpot over medium heat, saute mushrooms, celery and shallots in butter until soft.  Add beef and stir.  Add rice and beef stock.  Stir, cover, and simmer slowly for one hour.  Stir in Sherry and cream. Heat for 10 more minutes before serving.  This dish will be very thick…almost like a stew, rather than a soup.

 * use whatever fresh mushrooms you like, or an assortment.  I used button and crimini. 

I must insert a blog addendum at this point….That Stoup, pictured above…the one full of mushrooms…My Husband ATE it.  And he LIKED it….And he knew the mushrooms were in it.  My fiendish plot is working……Carry on….

Bite Sized Beef Wellingtons

Beef Wellington Bites, with Port Reduction

Typically, Beef Wellington is a very expensive, fussy dish, made from beef tenderloin—which may require a second mortgage, or the selling off of children to pay for it.  The beef is spread with the foie gras and the mushroom duxelles, wrapped in whole sheets of puff pastry, and baked to medium rare.  This bite sized version uses easier to source ingredients, and quick preparation to create an accessible version of a highbrow classic.

  • 2 cups beef consume, divided
  • 1 cup port wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 oz minced mushrooms (button, crimini, or a combination of the two)
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 2 packages puff pastry shells (12 total)
  • 6 oz foie gras**
  • 8 oz roast beef, sliced  ¼” thick, cut into 12 portions

Place one cup consume and the wine in a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Bring to a simmer, and simmer until reduced to about 1/3 cup.  This should take 20 minutes or more.

While the Port sauce is reducing, make the Duxelles.  Sautee mushrooms and shallots in a large skillet over medium heat until softened.  Add remaining one cup beef consume, and simmer until most of the liquid has cooked out of the mixture.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the pastry shells on a baking sheet, and bake according to package directions.  Remove the center portion once baked.  Place ½ oz (1/12th ) of the foie gras into each shell.  Fill remaining space in the shell with mushroom mixture (duxelles).  Top with one 1 piece of beef.  Place on serving platter, and serve Port sauce on the side.

 **Foie Gras (liver pate) is usually available in the same section as the import cheeses, if you have a good deli department. Goose or even duck foie gras would typically be used in this dish.  However, if it is not available in your area, or if you simply wish to save money, you may substitute pork liver sausage which is very inexpensive, and sold next to the hot dogs in your grocery store.  It is called braunschweiger.  It comes in a small tube-shaped container, and can be simply sliced and laid into the pastry shells.

Sitting in a Port Reduction

Advertisements

Categories: Food, Gourmet, Texas, Uncategorized

Subscribe

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

17 Comments on “The Fungus Among Us–Mushrooms And Other Smut”

  1. Aaron Pachlhofer
    2012/02/20 at 1:59 pm #

    I am with Greg…no fungus for me. The only exception is fungus that grows on cheese, wort, and various cured meats. I even pick them off of pizza.

    The one and only time I’ve ever had a full tenderloin on my hands, I made a Beef Wellington…and I even enjoyed the duxelle!

    Cool post as always

  2. 2012/02/20 at 3:00 pm #

    My godmother is a scientist — a physician — and she became vegan in a flash when the steak she was eating suddenly reminded her of a certain smell in medical school. Mushrooms? Not an issue. Neither is cheese, or any alcoholic drink. And thank goodness I’m not trained in biology and such, because I’m a chicken gizzard-eating fool – with or without gravy! Excellent post and recipes, as always.

    • 2012/02/20 at 8:26 pm #

      If I always trusted my nose, I would never have eaten fish sauce…..’cause, damn! But it is one of my favorite things, ever.

  3. 2012/02/20 at 8:30 pm #

    Fish sauce.. Mmmmm…

  4. 2012/02/23 at 9:50 am #

    I LOVE MUSHROOMS!

    I tried eating them raw once.. really.bad.idea.

    Your husband sounds like a smart man but even though the liver does filter toxins it’s also super high in iron and vitamin A. Although he is right to be slightly worried, eating too much liver can cause Hypervitaminosis A which can be lethal. but a little now and then is very very good for you ;D #themoreyouknow

  5. 2012/02/28 at 6:50 pm #

    You have the best titles too!

    • 2012/02/28 at 7:50 pm #

      I grew up fishing, and learned you have to have good bait before you can set the hook! 😉

  6. 2012/02/29 at 6:21 pm #

    This sounds good. I like the name too.

  7. 2012/03/13 at 8:17 pm #

    This looks delicious, can’t wait to try this recipe!

  8. 2012/05/25 at 10:17 pm #

    I often have this conversation with my bf about who was the poor schmuck whose job it was to test the mushrooms. “hey Steve, eat that one over there and tell me how you feel”

  9. 2012/05/26 at 2:02 am #

    Hi Texana! You had me at ‘smut’… 😉 no, really, I love mushrooms and these recipes sound wonderful. Thanks for visiting my blog and following! I’m flattered! And I have something to share in return. You CAN cultivate truffles! It’s a tricky business and a long term project, but farmers are doing it in Australia and New Zealand. You have to prepare the soil and plant saplings infested with the right fungus, but it can be done! Which is good news for us fungus-lovers!

  10. 2012/05/26 at 1:57 pm #

    I’m not a big fan of mushrooms, but my husband is, so I may have to pass these recipes along to him. However, I had to check out your post b/c I LOVE THE TITLE! 🙂 Thanks for following my blog! I can’t promise I can be turned to the dark side where the rubbery fungi grow, but I will, at least, after reading your post – keep an open mind. 🙂 Have a good weekend.

  11. 2012/05/26 at 2:05 pm #

    P.S. I love your comments about your husband, the scientist. My husband is an IT Project manager, and, hence, is very much a science-oriented person also…however, the interesting thing is…though I was a liberal arts major in college (Composition/Creative Writing fiction and poetry), and he was the science geek, HE’S the one who loves mushrooms and doesn’t care that they’re fungi, AND he loves liver and oddly, has no issue with the whole filtering toxins issue, which is part of the reason I wouldn’t touch these days if you PAID ME…however, I have at least tried it a couple of times. The first time I was six, and my mother told me it was roast beef, and I thought it was nasty. And, of course, at that point in time, I had no preexisting abhorrence to eating an organ that leaches icky stuff from one’s food…but ANYWAY…enjoy your fungi and poison-siphoning meat…:)

    • 2012/05/26 at 2:45 pm #

      It’s funny, but the only liver I ever really liked was my Granny’s home made fried chicken livers (seems like chicken toxins shouldn’t be too bad???), and the liver and onions and Luby’s cafeteria. Their batter had a sweetness to it, and if you put sugar in anything, kids will eat it. I would still eat it on a dare, but not as a choiceful meal selection.

      Southerners and Mexicans, which both form the society in which I have always resided, eat some , um, challenging things. Southerners eat anything that they can catch–racoons, possums, armadillo, alagators…and Mexicans eat every bit of an animal, from tail to snout. Intestines, tongue, brain, chicken feet. OMG….Must I go on?? Haha.

      Mushrooms, though, I will eat until I blow up.

  12. 2012/05/26 at 6:09 pm #

    I believe so! Have a look! http://www.trufflegrowers.com.au/?page_id=4

Leave a comment:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: