Sunday, September 16, 2018

Chicken Mushroom Recipe - Chicken Mushroom with Snow Peas and Sesame Noodles

Using one of the most versatile wild mushrooms in recipes can be as simple as substituting it for a similar protein in recipes. Chicken mushroom, once properly prepared first, can easily replace real chicken in many recipe calling for cooked chicken, especially cold salads or chilled noodle dishes. Many of our dinners consist of leftover noodles, rice, or other things in the refrigerator with cooked  mushroom added, plus a fresh sauce used to make a cohesive meal. I don't often have a "recipe" for what we make since we just make dinner with what we have, but this time I wrote down what was in the dressing, and it happened to turn out really well!

The keys to working with chicken mushroom as a chicken substitute are to collect a specimen in good shape and to cook it well. Collect a young enough specimen where the fronds are plump and still ooze a yellow juice when cut; they will be brightly colored. If the fronds of chicken mushroom are thinner and have dried out, no matter how much butter or oil you add, or how long you cook it, the mushroom will still feel like wet sawdust in your mouth. Once you have decided whether you want to cut the pieces into cubes or into strips, you can saute them in very little neutral oil in a pan, until lightly browned, don't drown them in olive oil. Olive oil has a low smoke point and is too strongly flavored to use at this point in cooking; use something flavorless like sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil, or vegetable oil. Lightly turn the chicken pieces to keep them from sticking, then add some hot or boiling water to the pan to cover the chicken mushroom, and poach for about 5-8 minutes.You will lightly simmer the mushroom until the water has evaporated. At this point, you'll need to watch the pan and might need to add a bit more oil to keep the mushroom from sticking and give it a stir.All of this cooking ensures the mushroom is cooked enough and will keep away any reactions that some people experience from eating under-cooked polypores. The cooked chiken mushroom can then be incorporated into any recipe you like hot, or chilled and tossed into cold noodle or rice dishes.

Chicken Mushroom, Snow Peas, and Sesame Noodles        makes 4 servings

6 cloves of garlic, minced
4 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp oil

6 Tbsp rice vinegar
6 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp chili garlic paste or Sriacha

1/2 pound cooked pasta, like linguine or spaghetti
1/2 cup raw snow peas

1/4 cup julienne carrots 
1/4 cup additional raw chopped veggies like cabbage, celery, sweet peppers
1 cup cooked, sliced chicken mushroom, chilled
4 tsp toasted sesame seeds

1. Make the dressing: In a small saucepan, add the minced garlic, sugar, oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic chili paste. Bring it to a quick boil and stir until the sugar dissolves, a few seconds. Cool.
2. Toss the pasta with the veggies and the chicken mushroom and pour the dressing over the noodles. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the salad to serve.
Note: If you are not serving the salad immediately, it will soak up the dressing, so save a bit of the dressing to to add to the salad right before service.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The "Original" Mushroom Jerky-Hen of the Woods Mushroom Jerky

Many years ago, we were inundated with several large maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa), and I actually mean dozens of them. We were somewhat forced to come up with ways to use the bounty beyond the traditional preservation tactics of dehydration and freezing, so we worked on developing a jerky made from the larger fronds. Our original recipe was published here in 2013, then copied, adapted, re-copied, changed, and inspired many other recipes by other bloggers and mushroom hunters for mushroom jerky made with different varieties of mushrooms like honeys, oysters, and king oysters. Here is our original recipe that we still use every year, and will start using very soon this coming autumn season as the maitake start to fruit.

Hen of the Woods Jerky        Makes about 2 cups marinade, enough for a large hen

For the marinade:
1 c. sweet apple cider
3/4 c. low sodium soy sauce, or tamari
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
1/2 tsp. ground fennel
5 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/2-1 Tbsp. Sriracha chili-garlic sauce

1. Place all marinade ingredients in a blender, and puree for a minute. Pour the marinade in a glass or non-reactive shallow pan, preferably one with a cover.
2. Clean the hen of the woods mushroom, making 1/8" thick slices of the core and the larger fronds. All parts can be used, but they will dehydrate at different rates and shrink up quite small.
3. Boil the mushroom for 10 minutes, and drain completely. Place the boiled hen pieces in the marinade while still hot, and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
4. Remove the pieces of hen from the marinade and drain the excess liquid off before arranging on  dehydrator trays. If drying in the oven, use wire racks placed on a sheet pan. Arrange the marinated mushroom on the trays and dehydrate at 120-130°F for 6-12 hours, until dried and leathery. The time will vary based on the thickness and sizes of the pieces, so check it often.
5. Store in an airtight jar or vacuum pack.

We often have more mushroom pieces than the dehydrator can handle at once, so we use the marinade one more time to flavor another batches, the second batch getting soaked a bit longer, until we use up all the hen. Check out these photos to see how much a very thick frond will shrink up, the top picture is raw, then the center picture is after boiling, and the third picture is after marination and dehydration.

Hen jerky, all snugly vacuum packed in quart jars for the winter months
Too many hens on my dining table!