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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Using dried mushrooms in cooking

Using dried mushrooms in cooking.

I love the intense flavor of dried mushrooms and there are so many dishes that are improved by their use. However many people aren't quite sure how to use them. Here are some basic tips for their use.

Use whatever liquid is most likely to go with the recipe you are using or is already being used in the recipe. Heat enough to cover the mushrooms twice, then allow to sit and soak for a while, then drain and chop. They do taste better if you saute and lightly brown them in some butter or oil or even bacon fat before adding to the recipe. If you have something that is being slowly cooked like a stew, you can just rinse and chop the dried mushrooms and add to the stew. Another thing you can do with dried mushrooms is grind them to a powder in your blender or food processor and then put in an empty spice bottle that has large holes in the sprinkle top, like a Mrs. Dash bottle, then just sprinkle some in your dish, just as long as it has about 20 minutes of simmering time.

Another use for dried mushrooms is one a little old Ukrainian lady taught me. The eastern Europeans produce the absolute best dried mushrooms in the world and know well how to use them. This is a dried mushroom gravy that I love.

Soak and chop your mushrooms using water or chicken broth or vegetable broth. Then peel and finely chop a small onion. If you like garlic, peel and finely chop a clove or two and add to the chopped onion.  Saute the onion and the mushrooms in butter or oil until browned. Add the strained soaking liquid and more water or broth to bring it up to the amount of finished gravy you want. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and let it cook about 20-30 minutes. In another saucepan add oil or butter, about 1 tbsp. for each cup of liquid and then add flour 1 tbsp for each tablespoon of butter. Stirring constantly cook until lightly browned. If the mushrooms aren't done, remove the roux from the heat until they are ready. When the mushrooms are ready, heat the roux again and when hot whisk in the mushrooms and cooking liquid. Stir constantly until thickened, which shouldn't take but just a few minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. If you really want to gild the lily, whisk some sour cream into the finished gravy. This is good over cooked meats, potatoes, rice, noodles,pierogies, you name it.