Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Butter Poached Lions Mane Mushrooms

"It tastes just like chicken."

You hear that a lot when someone is trying to describe something to someone who has never tried it.  It is such a worn out phrase that people make jokes about it.

But when Hugh Brewer of  Brewers Mushrooms dropped off the Lions Mane kit and told Alexis that these mushrooms taste like LOBSTER, I was intrigued.  A mushroom that tastes like lobster?  Now I just needed some ideas for what to make.

Mushroom Flavor Pairings
I've heard people say that mushrooms go with anything because they have a tendency to take on the flavors of what they are cooked with.  But mushrooms actually are a natural flavor enhancer.  According to Harold McGee, mushrooms contain many free amino acids including glutamic acid, making them a organic source of monosodium glutamate (McGee 9473).   The flavor enhancer Guanosine monophosphate was first discovered in shiitake mushrooms (McGee 9473).  So they don't just "take on" flavor, mushrooms amplify flavor.

Gourmet exotic mushrooms offer a world of flavor possibilities with hints of things like cinnamon, pepper, garlic, pine needles, butterscotch and in the case of Lions Mane, shellfish (McGee 9481). 

Here are some common flavor pairings for mushrooms as listed in The Flavor Bible.  John "Patio Daddio" Dawson recommended The Flavor Bible to me and it quickly became one of my most frequently used kitchen tools.  If you develop your own recipes, you want this book.  It was money well spent for me ($17 Kindle edition).   These are only partial listings from the book but give some good general ideas.

Mushrooms in general 
asparagus, bacon, beef, butter, carrots, cayenne, chicken, chives, cognac, chives, cream, garlic, ham, leeks, lemon, oil, onions, oregano, parsley, peas, pepper (black, white), pine nuts, pork, potatoes, radicchio, rice/risotto, rosemary, sage, salt, seafood, sesame oil, shallots, sherry (dry), sour cream, soy sauce, spinach, stocks, tarragon, thyme, vinegar (esp balsamic, red wine, sherry), wine

Chantrelle - same with emphasis on beef and chicken stocks
Cremini - same and goat and parmesan cheese, truffle oil,
Matsutake - savoy cabbage, black cod, custard, sashi, fish, chervil, Japanese cuisine, mirin, other wild mushrooms, sake, shrimp, tempura, tofu, rice wine vinegar
Morels - asparagus, caraway seeds, cheese (fontina, goat, parmesan), chicken mousse, heavy cream, eggs, faro, fava beans, fiddlehead ferns, Serrano ham, lamb, Madeira, thyme, sherry vinegar, ramps, sweetbreads
Porcini/Cepes/King Bolete - almonds, arugula, brandy, cheese (fontina, garrotxa, parmesan), chervil, roasted chicken, cream, eggs, hazelnuts, Italian cuisine in general, mint, button or cremini mushrooms, pasta, arborio ric, sake, tamari, white truffles, balsamic vinegar
Portobello - cheese (manchego, parmesan, ricotta), mint, pasta, polenta, spinach, thyme, sun dried tomatoes (I personally like with fire roasted chiles, cilantro)
Shiitake - bacon, basil, brandy, clarified butter, chile peppers, coriander, Japanese cuisine in general, oyster mushrooms, onions (esp red and white), polenta, pork, spinach, chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, dry white wine. (I like fresh ginger too, they didn't list it but it works)

Since Lions Mane has a shellfish flavor, I decided to make a mock "surf and turf".  One thing I had read was that to get the most out of the flavor enhancers and enzymes, it was best to cook mushrooms slowly (McGee 9498).  Hmmmm slow cooked "lobster".......I got it!  I was going to butter poach the mushrooms and pair them with slow roasted beef. 

Butter Poached Lions Mane Mushrooms
serves: 4

  • 1 Lions Mane mushroom*, cut into 1/4" slices
  • 1/2 cup clarified butter
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/8th tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8th tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, finely minced
  1. Place all of the poaching ingredients except the mushroom and parsley in a small pot and bring temperature to 160 f over med-low to low heat. 
  2. Add the mushroom and allow to poach for 30 minutes.  Add the parsley and poach another five minutes.
  3. Serve over grilled steaks.
  • I'm not sure how this would work with any mushroom other than lions mane since it has a unique shellfish flavor.  
  • The mushrooms should poach for at least 30 minutes to get tender but will hold just fine over low temps longer than that.  Our older son didn't get home until an hour after dinner and they were still great then.
Alexis declared that these were the best mushrooms she had ever eaten and the boys scraped the last leftover bits out of the pot.  The butter poaching does give them a luxurious texture that I have to admit, does have a shellfish taste and feel.  The best part was when you would get a chunk of buttery sweet garlic and mushroom together in one bite.  Delicious! I served them with a slow roasted top sirloin but I think the mushrooms would be even better served with a nice grilled strip steak or ribeye.
Lions Mane on the grow kit.  Odd looking things, right?

The flesh is thick, white, and meaty.
This series was written in conjunction with Brewer's Mushrooms.  It is a joint project with a local expert and is not a paid advertisement.  Hugh Brewer is trained in mycorestoration and Brewer's Mushrooms has been specializing in fresh gourmet mushrooms for years.  Brewer's Mushrooms offers fresh mushrooms at local markets, CSA shares, grow kits, and workshops.