Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Mushrooms That Taste Like Bacon?

Mushrooms are said to have a "meaty" texture, which is why they are often used as a substitute for beef in hamburgers. Contributor Jim Dixon of RealGoodFood writes that they can also take on the flavor of bacon when roasted over a (real) wood fire.

When the sun is out, I want to cook outside. Summer in Portland is just too nice to spend time in the kitchen when I could be in the backyard. So I use my Weber as much as I can. If you don’t have some kind of grill, get a Weber kettle or the generic equivalent (look on Craigslist, they’re cheap). You also need a charcoal chimney (available everywhere) and real wood charcoal, preferably not mesquite, which I think burns too hot; True Value hardware stores or Whole Foods are the most reliable for hardwood charcoal, sometimes called lump fuel.

I don’t like gas grills, but they have their advocates. The chef and owner of Cochon and Peche (some of my New Orleans restaurant customers) said it best recently. Something along the lines of, “If you have a gas grill, the first thing is to get rid of it.” Gas grills will cook outside, but you can’t get the smoky flavor of a real wood fire, and you need it to make these.

Mushrooms That Taste Like Bacon

You’ll need a covered Weber-like grill to make these, and a cast iron skillet would be best, although any heat proof pan would work; it does need to fit into your grill but only cover about half of it. Thinly slice enough mushrooms to fill the skillet or pan pretty full (they’ll shrink). Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, add a good amount of good salt (the Sicilian fine sea salt, for example) and some freshly ground pepper.

Light some hardwood charcoal in your chimney. When it’s burning, make a pile at one end of your grill so the skillet can sit on the grill grate without being directly over the fire. Did I mention that you’ll also need a chunk of actual hardwood, like the trimmings from a fruit tree (what I use) or a piece of oak? You can buy hardwood chunks for barbecue, and one of those would be fine. Put it on the grill grate over the fire, and put the skillet of mushrooms at the other side. Cover the grill; within a few minute you should see smoke coming out of the vent on the lid (make sure it’s open).

Cook the mushrooms for awhile. Check them every so often to make sure they’re not burning (get an oven mitt; that pan will be hot!). Cook until the mushrooms are shriveled up and a little crispy, maybe an hour, although your time might be vary because every fire is different. Remove the skillet without burning yourself, put it on a heatproof surface to cool a little, and eat the mushrooms like bacon.

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