Dried Mushroom Primer and a Chicken Recipe

Reader Contribution by Kurt Jacobson
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Dried mushrooms are a cook’s friend when there’s no time or ability to go grocery shopping for fresh mushrooms. I have kept dried mushrooms as long as10 years without a worry of food spoilage. Not that I’d recommend keeping them that long, but I got carried away and bought two pounds once and they lasted me much longer than I thought possible. That was in part to me gifting some of them to my mother-in-law who re-gifted them back to me 9 years later. The mushrooms were still dry and delicious.

Dried mushrooms come in many varieties. My favorite are chanterelles, Maitake, porcini, and portabella. The flavor of dried mushrooms is a bit stronger than fresh mushrooms and are best suited for soups, stews, and sauces. I’ve also ground up dried mushrooms in a spice grinder and incorporated them in homemade pasta with excellent results.

Full of Vitamin D

Mushrooms, both fresh and dried, are an excellent source of vitamin D and potassium. At a mushroom talk at Phillips Mushrooms in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania I learned that if you take fresh shitake mushrooms and place them gills up in the sun, the amount of vitamin D increases significantly. What a tasty way to get a dose of vitamin D!

Using dried mushrooms couldn’t be easier. In most cases it’s best to soak them in water or wine for around ten minutes before using. If your dried mushrooms are raised at an indoor farm, you don’t have to be concerned about grit in them.

If they were wild mushrooms growing in the forest or field before being dried, you still need to soak them, then after 10 minutes give them a gentle stir to let the grit settle on the bottom. Next, take a fork, or slotted spoon to remove the mushrooms, leaving the grit on the bottom of the bowl you soaked them in. Use all but the bottom of portion of the mushroom liquid to add flavor to your dish.

Where to Buy

Dried mushrooms were once a rarity in stores, but nowadays, I see them in most grocery stores I shop at. If you can’t get them at your local grocery store, consider ordering them online. They are easy to ship and very lightweight.

An ounce of dried mushroom typically will cost about $7 to $10 plus shipping costs. I get almost all of my dried mushrooms from Phillips Mushrooms, the largest purveyor of specialty mushrooms in the United States. In the past I’ve also bought from Oregon Mushrooms, but that was when I had to order dried mushrooms online.

Melissa’s dried mushrooms are in some grocery stores throughout the US for another source. All three of these suppliers have a large selection of dried mushrooms but Philips and Oregon Mushrooms have medicinal mushrooms as well.

I like using dried mushrooms for slow cooker recipes like this lamb version I posted on my food blog in 2013. Chicken, pork, beef, and lamb all work well with dried mushrooms as long as there is a significant amount of liquid in the recipe. Another favorite way to use dried mushrooms is in Chinese hot and sour soup, which uses shitake. Cooking with dried mushrooms is usually a low-fat method as they don’t need the butter or oils used often in the cooking of fresh mushrooms.

For confident or beginner cooks, try this delicious and easy chicken and mushroom soup recipe to get started using dried mushrooms. This recipe also works well with pork chops if desired. The prep time is about 15 minutes and cooking time one hour.

Baked chicken with dried mushrooms

Ingredients

  • ½ ounce dried mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine-merlot, cab franc, syrah, or similar
  • One 10.5 ounce can Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 T half and half, whole milk, 2% milk, or almond milk
  • ¼ t dried thyme
  • ¼ t onion powder
  • ¼-1/2 t garlic powder
  • ¼ t ground white or black pepper
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 2 pounds chicken legs, or thighs

Directions

1. Break dried mushrooms into dime-sized pieces and place in a small bowl.

2. Add red wine to dried mushrooms and let soak for 10-15 minutes.

3. In a medium sized mixing bowl add mushroom soup, half and half, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and saffron. Mix well with a spoon and set aside.

4. Pat chicken legs dry with paper towel and place in a baking dish. I like to use a Le Cruset cast iron or a ceramic baking dish.

5. Add red wine-soaked mushrooms to mushroom soup mix and stir to combine ingredients.

6. Pour mushroom mixture over chicken and coat each piece with the sauce mix.

7. Cover and bake for 60 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken leg reaches 165 degrees.

Serves 2-4

Note: I recommend serving mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, or sweet potatoes with this dish.

Kurt Jacobsohas been a chef for 40 years and, after being schooled in the U.S. Coast Guard, he trained in many restaurants under both kind and maniac chefs. Kurt is starting his seventh year of container and raised-bed organic gardening in his backyard. For this and other published stories, check out his travel blog, TasteofTravel2.com. Read all of Kurt’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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