There is always a good time to make room for mushrooms

Either you love them or you hate them. As far back as I can remember, my father has had a distinct dislike for mushrooms. In spite of this, I love them; always have.

Mushrooms may not fall into our theory of eating the rainbow but they are nutrient-dense. They are rich in B vitamins such as riboflavin (B2), folate (B9), thiamine (B1), pantothenic acid (B5), and niacin (B3). The B vitamins help the body to get energy from food, and they help form red blood cells. A number of B vitamins are important for a healthy brain.

Low in calories and fat and cholesterol-free, mushrooms contain fibre, protein and a long list of minerals including copper, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Mushrooms are also high in antioxidants like selenium and glutathione (GSH), substances believed to protect cells from damage and reduce chronic disease and inflammation.

Although a few sliced raw mushrooms in a salad will do you no harm, it is advised to cook them. Not only are they safer to eat but also the nutrients are released with cooking. Wild mushrooms should always be cooked.

Chicken and Dumplings with Mushrooms

This is thinner than most stews but the dumplings nicely sop up all the broth.

Chicken stew

  • 6 oz. slab bacon, cut into 1/4 inch (6 mm) pieces 170 g
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour 60 mL
  • 4 skinless chicken drumsticks with thighs, (about 2 lb.) 1 kg
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 11/2 lb. mixed mushrooms 750 g
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1/4 c. dry white wine 60 mL
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 c. low-sodium chicken stock 2L

Dumplings

  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt 3 mL
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour 250 mL
  • 2 tsp. baking powder 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg 2 mL
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper .5 mL
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. whole milk 60 mL

Prepare the chicken stew by crisping bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Transfer bacon to a plate and leave the fat in the pot.

Place flour in a shallow bowl. Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Working in batches, cook chicken, in same pot over medium heat until deep golden brown on all sides, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to same plate with the bacon.

Next cook mushrooms in same pot, seasoning with salt and pepper and stirring occasionally, until brown, five to eight minutes.

Transfer to a bowl.

Add onion and garlic to pot. The mushrooms may have absorbed all the bacon fat so add cooking oil, if necessary, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, five to eight minutes.

Add wine to pot. Simmer until reduced by half, about five minutes. Add chicken, bacon, thyme, bay leaves and stock. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then put in a 325 F (160 C) oven until chicken is falling off the bone, two to 2 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the dumpling batter by whisking flour, baking powder, nutmeg, pepper and salt in a medium bowl. Lightly whisk eggs and milk and stir into the flour mixture. It is good to let the batter sit for 15 or 20 minutes before using. It thickens and is easier to work with.

When the chicken is fully cooked remove stew from oven and stir in mushrooms. Using two small spoons or a small ice cream scoop place dumplings over the top of the stew leaving about two inches (five centimetres) space between each. Return to oven until the dumplings are cooked, about 15 minutes. Serves six.

Mushroom Tart with Caramelized Shallots and Goat Cheese

  • 1 sheet frozen butter puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. milk 15 mL
  • 3 large shallots, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 king oyster mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced
  • 6 – 8 large cremini mushrooms
  • 2 c. fresh baby spinach 500 mL
  • 2 tbsp. soft goat cheese, crumbled 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil 30 mL
  • 1 tbsp. butter 15 mL
  • coarse salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Roll out thawed puff pastry according to package directions and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Fold edges over about 1/4 inch (six mm) to form a border. Whisk egg and milk and brush the edges with the mixture. Prick all over with the tines of a fork and bake until golden, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook until caramelized and soft, about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Stir in baby spinach, add salt and pepper. Set aside.

Top the pastry with the shallot/mushroom mixture and scatter the goat cheese on top. Bake for another 10 minutes. Serve with a tossed green salad.

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

  • 4 oz. mixed dried wild mushrooms 115 g
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter 15 mL
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter 125 mL
  • 1 c. chopped yellow onion 250 mL
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 tsp. chopped thyme leaves, divided 5 mL
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 c. sliced leeks, white and light green parts 500 mL
  • 1/4 c. all-purpose flour 60 mL
  • 1 c. dry white wine 250 mL
  • 1 c. half-and-half cream 250 mL
  • 1 c. heavy cream 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 125 mL

Rehydrate dried mushrooms in one cup (250 mL) boiling water for 20 minutes. Squeeze the mushrooms and save the liquid to add later. Set both aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and one tablespoon (15 mL) of the butter in a large pot. Add the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, one teaspoon (5 mL) salt and 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

Add six cups (1.5 L) water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups (1 L) of stock. If not, add some water.

Meanwhile, using the same pot, heat the remaining 1/2 cup (125 mL) of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the rehydrated dried mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the flour and cook for one minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot.

Simmer until reduced by one half. Add the reserved mushroom water, vegetable stock and chopped thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) salt, and one teaspoon (5 mL) pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the half-and-half, cream and parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.

Recipe contest

We all have family favourite recipes that for reasons of diet, food restrictions or personal preferences we have adapted to meet these needs. We’re asking our readers to share their adapted family favourite recipes.

The contest draw will be made Dec. 2 for a basket of baking ingredients. Please submit your adapted family favourite recipes, along with your name, address and phone number, to team@producer.com or mail them to:

The Western Producer, Adapted Favourites,
1000 – 3530 Millar Avenue,
Saskatoon, Sask.
S7P 0B6

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.

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