5@5 - Make merry with mushrooms
December 21st, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Your mother probably always told you, "Don't judge a book by its cover." She also told you to always eat your vegetables.

Kill two birds with one fungi by eating some of the gnarliest looking vegetables around - mushrooms - with the help of Chris DiMinno, executive chef at Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon.

My Five Most Important Mushrooms and How to Showcase Them: Chris DiMinno

1. Chanterelles
"Portlanders are so lucky that chanterelles grow like crazy outside the city. When I lived and cooked in New York, I can remember seeing them in the market selling for $32.00 per half pound. Here in Portland, they can sell for as low as $10.00 a pound.

Since moving here to work three years ago, they have become my new favorite mushroom and not just for their price and accessibility. Chanterelles are incredibly versatile. They can be braised, pickled, preserved, puréed, roasted, grilled or even served raw.

Personally, I think they are best seared in a pan, with a crazy amount of butter, shallots and chopped thyme. At this point, they can be paired with anything. They are awesome on top of a steak or tossed into fresh pasta."

2. Truffles
"As much as I wish I could hop into a Ferrari, head to the white truffle auction in Alba and spend a couple of grand on a mushroom, that’s just not my current reality. (I think I dreamt about that last night, though.)

To enjoy truffles, I don’t think you have to spend that much to accent your meal. If you really want to splurge, go for the Italian or French black truffles, which are awesomely earthy. I’m a big fan of summer black truffle oil, or truffle peelings; they can add that bit of earthiness to a pasta or vinaigrette without breaking the bank. I also endorse Oregon black truffles in the early spring.

Thinly slice some fresh black truffle and drizzle some truffle oil on popcorn with Grana cheese. You’ll never want buttered popcorn ever again."

3. Chicken of the woods
"Often confused with the hen of the woods, which is actually the Maitake mushroom, chicken mushrooms are large, flat, very dense and have a beautiful bright red/orange color. Because they are so dense I like to sear them in olive oil, add a little salt and then braise them in vegetable stock. They do, actually, taste like chicken, so they open themselves up for all type of parody, i.e. the “chicken” sandwich, Fried “chicken” mushrooms, etc.

But I like to treat them simply cooked. Eat them with nothing else. They’re amazing."

4. Morels
"So good. So so good. One of the main reasons I can’t wait for spring is because of these mushrooms. They match perfectly with everything that comes into season that time of year: peas, asparagus, fava beans, salad greens, etc. The one problem? Bugs. Morels always have to be split in half and washed at least twice to get the bugs and dirt out.

Braise them with Madeira or sherry. Add a little heavy cream and some shallots and you’ve got yourself an amazing sauce for a roasted chicken."

5. Cepes
"My mother loves dried cepes (also known as porcini). She buys them like crazy. They are the key ingredient in her white Bolognese sauce. I prefer the fresh ones if you can find them, but they can be a little pricey - though not white truffle pricey. If you can find nice beautiful fresh ones, they are amazing when simply seared with a little olive oil, or shaved raw and lightly warmed on a salad.

I like to clean them, split them lengthwise so you can clearly see the profile and cook them with a meaty fish, like sturgeon or halibut."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Bite • Dishes • Think • Vegetables


soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. TSuisei

    What? No mention of the shiitake mushroom? o.O

    December 23, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  2. MMMMMM

    WHAT ABOUT MUSHROOM TEA? NO ONES MENTIONED THAT I HEARD ITS REALLY GOOD!

    December 22, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  3. james

    I second the dangers of raw mushrooms, the author mentions using morels with salad greens thee should be cooked to avoid this mistake:

    "It is vital that morels be cooked thoroughly; eating raw morels consistently leads to sickness, as in the infamous case of a restaurant in the Pacific Northwest where, some years ago, an ignorant chef served raw morels and dozens of patrons took ill! " (americanmushrooms.com)

    Raw mushrooms also do nothing for you because your body can only absorb the tissue once it has been degraded through cooking.

    December 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  4. David

    As far as eating raw mushrooms. Don't. All mushrooms (including the white ones at the supermarket) contain a small ammount of toxin. Thouroghly cook all mushrooms. As far as the chicken of the woods tasting like chicken. That is total nonsense. The chicken of the woods has the most amazing deep mushroomy earthy flavor of almost any mushroom and any likeness to chicken is perhaps the way the mushroom looks when clustered in the wild. I pick about 100 lbs a year of these mushrooms here in Va. Try making a simple potato and chicken of the woods gratin. Saute the mushrooms first, then mix with thinly sliced russet potatoes and some salt and pepper. Pack into a shallow casserole and just cover with heavy cream. Cook at 400 for 45 min and let rest 10 minutes. holy crap is that good.

    December 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  5. fungi Amongi

    Mendocino Mushroom Festival. Wine and mushroom pairings, beautiful redwood forest, pristine coastline and the absolute best mushrooms on the planet. Usually right in the middle of our Porcini (Boletus, Cepe, Gamboni) season but a little early for the Matsutakes. This year has provided, Matsutakes, Boletus (white kings, queens and kings), Chantarelles (Whites, golden and winter), Hedgehogs, Hawkswings, Agaricus Augustus (the Prince)...I hope I didn't forget your favorite! Please check us out. Come visit and count the whales....And your blessings! Peace to the mushroom hunters!

    December 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  6. Prom Queen

    Muscoda, WI...Self proclaimed morel mushroom capital of the world! The Mushroom Festival is held each May, the weekend after Mother's Day.

    December 22, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Jeff

      I concur with Prom Queens claim that WI is the morel capitol.
      I lived in Stevens Point and would find them often.
      Now I'm a resident of Boulder Creek, CA and I find chantrelles now. It's been a good year so far.
      Haven't found the coveted porcini though.

      December 22, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  7. SherwoodOR

    What a nice article.

    And, if you are in Portland, Clyde Common is really good.

    December 22, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  8. fungi Amongi

    Wild mushrooms should be cooked. They are indigestible raw. I have heard that Porcini's (Boletus Edulis) are edible raw, but the flavor and texture really comes out when they are roasted or barbecued, or better yet, dried. White and Chantarelles are best eaten cooked fresh and not reconstituted whereas the Winter Chantarelle, (Yellow Foot) is fine dried and reconstituted. Black Chantarelles, (Craterellus Conucopiodes) are best dried where they develop a flavor that is similar to parmesan cheese. Whatever your choice is, be sure of your identification as just last week, a poor soul visiting our mushroom rich area and who thought that they knew what they were doing ate a poisonous mushroom that they thought was a Boletus that destroyed their liver and kidneys. Severe mushroom poisoning is slow and painful and nearly always results in death, unlike an allergic reaction which usually results in pretty immediate emesis. Those who are sensitive to button mushrooms might try wild mushrooms, but stay away from any of the Agaricus cousins (the 'Prince", Bisporus, etc. as they all contain similar chemical compounds that are mildly toxic to nearly everyone and very unpleasant for the sensitives among us.

    December 22, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  9. czerendipity

    I live in Oregon and several times a year I go with my family and get wild Chanterelles to make a big batch of mushroom soup that we eat with warm french bread. Its my favorite meal, hands down!

    December 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  10. Tacowalker

    I would be very careful about the raw chanterelles the chef mentions. Always cook mushrooms, they are not vegetables, they are fungi. I know 3 mycologists who swear by this rule. I do agree they are wonderful mushrooms though.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Ally

      taco, I eat mushrooms raw on salads all the time. Granted those tend to be regular white button mushrooms. But why would chanterelles be dangerous raw?

      December 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • SherwoodOR

      I suspect that the issue is not so much the raw mushroom itself but rather what other stuff might be on it. After all, mushrooms do grown just inches off the forest ground.

      December 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  11. Ally

    I absolutely love fresh morels! I dream about them all winter long.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Lindsey Lohan

      "Morals?" What are they?

      December 22, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  12. fungi amognus

    Yesterday my children and I foraged about 10lbs of Winter Chantarelles (Craterellus Tubaeformis, Yellow Foot), White Chantarelles (Cantharellus Subalbidus) and Hedgehogs (Hydnum Repandum) all within about 1000' from the front door of our house. The weather was fantastic, the woods were tranquil and yet full of life and dinner was absolutely delicious. Braised chicken thighs roasted with mixed wild mushrooms and caramelized onions, freshly harvested, roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, freshly harvested Beets and sautéed Chard and Broccoli with Scallions and white wine. A couple of Red Seal Ales from our local brewery, an astonishing sunset, Chanukah with the family, a sappy romance movie... This is how the 99% gets through the day in my 'hood! Life is still really good even though the mortgage is underwater!...

    December 22, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • oooooohhhhhh

      I am having fungi envy! Yummm!

      December 22, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • hawkechik

      Don't think about the mortgage being underwater, if it's that good where you are (and it sounds like it is) why would you want to move?

      December 22, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  13. jg

    Great article. I agree with all of it.
    EXCEPT......mushrooms are not vegetables. They are fungi. Your basic 3rd grader knows this. This is VERY BIG deal nutritionally.

    December 22, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  14. NOT MY CHAIR

    thought they were talking about the other mushrooms

    December 22, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Truth™

      You mean growing on you?

      December 22, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Myto Senseworth

      Are U talking about Stropharia Cubensis ?.....Danger stay away

      December 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  15. Nelleke Lindemans

    We were sooo happy to find chanterelles at our Costco in Brandon, Florida, for $8.99 a pound. We bought 5 pounds and did we enjoy them! When living in Wisconsin we would hunt for mushrooms in the woods, but not in Florida. It was a great find at Costco and we hope to see them more often.

    December 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  16. DarrylS

    After moving to Florida you can imagine my disappointment to find that no edible wild mushrooms exist down here...at least to my knowledge. Coming from Wisconsin, I was used to the thrills of foraging for and eating morels in the spring and oyster, honey, hen of the woods and chicken of the woods mushrooms in the fall. The taste of these wonderful fungi is one of the things I miss most of all since leaving the north.

    December 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • southerner

      Then go back–we don't want you down here anyway.

      December 22, 2011 at 10:28 am |
      • jg

        That jerk makes me sad to be from the south. Unfortunately there are a lot of ignorant, uneducated, hateful bigots still lurking around down here. And they raise their children to be just like them. We need MANY more people from the north to move here. By the millions. To dilute the stupid down here.
        Just saying.

        December 22, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • mel

      not true. Here in north FL we found a lions mane that was about 3 pounds in our woods 2 days ago. Fantastic eating.

      December 22, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • ShroomHunter

      I'm from the PNW and have foraged for mushrooms for many years here, so imagine my disappointment when I had to live in western Louisiana for a few years. But, I was absolutely shocked to find yellow chanterelles growing in great abundance along a small creek in the fall! Was one of the best chanterelle spots I've ever found...

      December 22, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  17. Leo

    Give a little credit to the black trumpet mushroom. They're not physically substantial – very thin-fleshed, and not all that attractive to look at (go look up images for reference), but there's no mushroom other than the truffle that has intense, earthy flavor like these. My favorite treatment is to sautee them in butter and turn them into a cream sauce to serve over pasta. Incredible stuff.

    December 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  18. suckitup

    i would make merry if you didnt try locking me up everytime

    December 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm |
  19. slupdawg

    Psilocybe cubensis is my fave.

    December 21, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • Robert Cotton

      ^ this

      December 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • Wastrel

      I looked at this only long enough to see who went there. After that, the colors began to run.

      December 22, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • Eric of Reseda

      Indeed, mine too. However, I find the taste a bit pungent for salads and such. So, I tend to first prepare the mushrooms in base of any darn thing that will mask the god-awful taste of these "feces flowers"! That said, once eaten, I usually look back at what was a wonderful dining experience!

      December 22, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Rick

      They are great.

      December 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • tokencode

      I love mine in an acid vinegrette with some nice greens.

      December 22, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
      • Dover

        ....and reds, and purples and.....

        December 22, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  20. Phil in Oregon

    I have to agree with the chanterelle – I found a large patch a couple years ago and man are they good! Too bad they didn't come back up there(I know because I check there every year)

    December 21, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  21. Angel M.

    I am simply IN LOVE with mushroom hunting! It's like hunting for treasure in the woods! Here in Tennessee, we get our Morels in late March/ early April & Chanterelles in July. I have found 3 types of Chanterelles here, and two of them growing within mere feet of my private Morel honey hole. I also find Hedgehog mushrooms here. I have not been lucky enough however, to find any Chicken of the Woods, Hen of the Woods or Hericium....3 months & counting till Morel season kickoff!!!

    December 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
  22. paganguy

    Some girls love to eat mushrooms

    December 21, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
  23. Truth™

    Well, is he good company?
    Of course! He's a real fungi!

    December 21, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
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