Friday, December 24, 2010

Panko Battered and Fried Maitake Mushrooms!

Panko Fried Maitake Mushrooms

A one pound Maitake mushroom was nestled right at the base of an Elm tree on Sunday.  They are most prone to grow at the base of Oak but you can occasionally find them near Elm and Locust.  It was just barely popping up from all the leaves on the ground which made me think back to my search that day and I realized I might have missed a lot more of these puppies.  I was looking for something just a little fluffier but my partner actually spotted this one.  I was looking in an entirely different direction.  This year both times that we've found mushrooms it has been at the end of our hike closest to where civilians have recreational activities.  So I've drawn the conclusion that perhaps the deer are getting a lot of these mushrooms in the deep woods and leaving them at the edges since they don't want to come too close to people.  Well, anyways that's what is so fun and mysterious about mushrooms, you never know when and where you are going to find them, especially morels but that is a Spring obsession, just wait.  Today the Chicago Sun-Times photographer came over to take pictures of my panko fried maitake mushrooms and then pictures of me in the woods looking for them.  I made the mushrooms just before he came over hoping he was hungry but he doesn't like mushrooms so I packed some up for his wife who he says, "loves them."  This is how I made them and this will likely be the same recipe that comes out in the paper but you get it first here, it's super easy!
1 lb. Maitake mushrooms.  If bought from the store, break apart into bite size pieces.  If found in woods you should be able to cut beautiful cross sections of these and they will look like trees or if it's a big Maitake, you can separate the petals and fry those.  Clean them with a light brushing and water.  I have a toothbrush that I use specifically for these mushrooms.
1 cup All-purpose flour
1-2 cup crushed Panko bread crumbs.  I grind mine in a spice grinder so that they are nice and fine.  If you don't have panko you can use stale white, wheat, or rye bread and grind in food processor, pretzels or gluten-free bread (skipping the flour part or using a gluten-free starch, rice flour or potato starch-both can be found very inexpensively at most Asian stores and definitely on Argyle St.).
3 egg yolk
3 oz cream or milk
2 t Kosher salt
1 t cracked pepper
2 oz. butter
1/2 cup canola oil
Place cup of flour on one plate, whisk eggs and cream in a bowl and place that next to the flour plate, and then on the other side of the bowl, place a plate with your crumb mixture with salt and pepper.  First dip your mushrooms into the flour and tap off excess, then into the bowl and use a fork to turn it over to coat it with egg and cream on both sides then place it into the crumb mixture.  Heat canola oil and butter in skillet, when you drop in a little piece of crumb mixture and it sizzles, it's ready.  Place the mushrooms in and let cook till brown, about 2-3 minutes, then flip with fork to brown other side.  Take out and place on paper towel on a plate or on drip rack on a plate or tray, sprinkle with a touch more salt and that's it.  Good thing about this fry mix is you can do anything with it, fry anything, add powders like garlic, onion, celery, cayenne, etc...  Hope you like them as much as I do.  If you don't get a chance to hit the woods, River Valley Kitchens from Wisconsin has foraged Maitake and sometimes Green Acre Farms does as well.  I know both of these merchants are at Green City Market so they might have them this time of year.  Or if you do have a chance to hit the woods you can come with me where I will uncover my spots, the 16th, you get breakfast, lunch, round-trip bus, and lots of other goodies, beverages, etc.  $100 dollar fee.  And you can also find these mushrooms at most of the Wholefoods stores here in Chicago.  Good luck!

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