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Photo by Chris Casella

Market Spotting: Mushrooms

I picked up these gorgeous oyster and crimini mushrooms at Little Eater Produce and Provisions at he North Market recently. The oyster mushrooms are so gorgeously sculptural to look at, I almost didn’t want to chop them up – it felt like an insult to nature’s grand architecture. Sourced from down the freeway in Athens, I used my fungal treasures all weekend: breakfast, lunch and dinner.

1.) Earthy Eggs

Dice half an onion and rough chop the mushrooms until you have a cup. Sauté the vegetables in butter. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk four eggs until the eggs are light yellow and frothy, preferably with no white streaks – I pour the mixture into my little smoothie contraption to make sure it is well blended. Once the onion and ‘shroom mixture are sizzling and golden, slowly pour in the eggs. Gently pull the eggs away from the side of the pan with a non-metal spatula, letting the uncooked egg on the surface flow to the heat beneath. While still a little wet, remove from heat, as the eggs will continue to cook. Salt, pepper, and serve.

2.) Mushroom Po’Boy

Slice the mushroom approximately ¼  to ½  inch thick. Prepare the breading station: one plate of whisked eggs, one plate of seasoned breadcrumbs, or cornmeal. A double-layer of paper towels off to the side. In a pan over medium/high heat, place about an inch of vegetable oil. The oil is ready when you can flick a drop of water into the pan and it pops. Working quickly, dip the mushroom rounds into the egg, then into the crumbs, coating them well. Slide into the oil. After about 30 seconds, flip with tongs. Cook 30 more seconds. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Compose sandwich. Slice a fresh baguette into thirds. Take a section and cut it lengthwise, like a hinge. Serve it dressed New Orleans style – lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise (although I cheated and whipped up a mix of Dijon and mayo for some extra tang).

3.) ‘Shroom Napoleon

Pick up a package of already-prepared polenta, or make your own. Cut the polenta into rounds ½ inch thick (if making your own, spread cooked polenta in a greased pan and bake until firm, then use the mouth of a small glass to make rounds). Put aside the polenta and start the mushroom sauce: in a pan, sauté chopped onions and mushrooms with butter (or just add a little water if you want to keep the dish vegan). As they are cooking down, swirl a pan with olive oil and heat it on medium/high heat. Once hot, place the polenta circles in the oiled pan. While the polenta is searing away, add a few twists of fresh-ground pepper,  some beef or vegetable broth and a scant handful of fresh thyme springs to the mushroom mixture, as well as a pour of red wine. Keep cooking down. If the liquid gets too dry, add more water, broth, or wine. The polenta is ready to flip when it releases easily. Have patience. Taste the sauce, it should be deep and flavorful and just this side of thick. Remove the thyme twigs. Plate by stacking polenta, sauce, polenta sauce, polenta sauce. Add a little flourish of green to the top – Italian parsley, micro greens to break up the brown and add some herbal crunch.

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