Did you know that more than twenty species of mushrooms are commercially available in the USA? The edible fungi are cultivated in about sixty countries, with the top 5 producers being China, the USA, the Netherlands, France and Poland.
The most popular type in our nation is the white button mushroom. It is also one of the milder tasting ones, although its flavor tends to intensify with cooking. Some of my favorite ’shrooms are beech, oyster, enoki, chanterelle, and crimini. But if I had to pick the one that packs the most punch, it would have to be the truffle, which unfortunately is also pretty pricey.
Both black and white truffles are usually used in their raw state and shaved onto hot dishes. They add depth and rich flavor to pasta, meat, and other proteins. One way to keep the cost of using truffles down is to use black or white truffle oil. I like to add a drop or two to the red wine glace I make for rib eye steaks and have even added elegance to burgers with that magic elixir. You can find truffle oil in most supermarkets and upscale grocery chains, such as Whole Foods and Fresh Market.
Aside from their delicious flavor, mushrooms are full of nutrients and many health benefits are attributed to them, too. They contain calcium, vitamins D and B, selenium (which is considered to be a powerful antioxidant,) and potassium. They are also fat and cholesterol free and low in calories.
September is National Mushroom month, so I’m making salmon filets poached in mushroom broth, white wine, and touch of white truffle oil tonight to celebrate. My narrow, cast-iron pate terrine works best for this dish because its narrow structure allows me to use less liquid to cover the fish, but a braiser or a covered casserole works well, too. I’ll line the bottom with the gourmet mushroom mix from my local produce section, since I bought a package the other day. Sliced button mushrooms, like those pictured here, work just as well. If I happen to have a shallot on hand I’ll mince it and toss it on top of the fungi. And then pour the warmed broth mixture over the mushrooms. Finally I’ll set the raw, skinless salmon filets afloat into the liquid, cover the pot, and place it in the oven heated to 325° to cook gently for about 20 minutes. Proper cooking time depends upon the size of the filets, but the salmon tastes best when the filets are “just done,” moist and not taut.
Other great ways to enjoy mushrooms are in stews, like Chicken Cacciatore, quiches, and mixed with vegetables like asparagus and bell peppers. You can find recipes for these, Steak in Red Wine Glace, and lots of other delicious dishes in my cookbooks.
Enjoy National Mushroom Month several magical ways.
Photos Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals