Crimini mushrooms, which are also called Roman, brown or Italian mushrooms, used to be the only mushroom grown in the United States. Growers abandoned them in favor of a faster-growing cousin, the common white button mushroom. However, an increase in consumer interest in mushrooms has given the cream-colored crimini another chance. The caps are cocoa-colored and have chocolate-brown gills. The texture is firmer and the flavor is much more intense and satisfying. Select plump, solid mushrooms with no sign of dampness or shriveling. Check the stems for any signs of mold. Store, refrigerated, in a basket covered with a towel for up to a week. Use raw or in any recipe calling for domestic or button mushrooms.
How to prepare mushrooms for recipes
- Wipe mushrooms with a damp cloth or soft brush to remove dirt, trim stems if dry.
- When ready to use, mushrooms can be gently rinsed in cool water.
- Shake gently to remove excess water. Do not soak mushrooms because they readily absorb water, which speeds deterioration.
Golden Polenta With Creamy Mushrooms
Makes 4 servings
4 tablespoons butter
4 green onions, diced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 cups crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 sprig rosemary
1/2 to 3/4 cup cornmeal polenta
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded
1. For the polenta, place water, salt and rosemary sprig in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and remove rosemary sprig. Slowly pour cornmeal into the water, whisking continuously to remove any lumps. Once all the cornmeal has been incorporated, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Once the polenta has reached a thick and smooth consistency, stir in the butter until melted. Add in the Gruyère a small handful at a time, stirring after each addition to melt. If the polenta seems a bit thick, thin slightly with milk or half and half, adding only 1-2 tablespoons at a time. Pour mixture into 9-inch loaf pan, pressing firmly into the bottom and covering. Chill in the fridge until firm.
2. In a small sauté pan melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add in the green onions and parsley and cook for 3 minutes until aromatic and softened. Add in the mushrooms, olive oil, and the salt. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are cooked through and starting to brown around the edges. Drizzle the lemon juice on and stir in. Remove from heat.
3. Remove the polenta from the refrigerator and cut into slices. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Toast the slices until golden brown. Remove to plate. Top with mushrooms and serve.
Farmers Market Mushroom Salad
Makes 6-8 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound mushrooms, sliced 1 cup chopped zucchini
2 cups fresh corn kernels
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 bell peppers of varying colors, diced
1/2 cup fresh thyme leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
Coarse salt and pepper to taste
2 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup arugula
1. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a single layer of mushrooms and cook, without stirring, for about five minutes or until mushrooms become red-brown on one side. Flip and cook about five minutes more, until other side is same color; set aside.
2. Sauté zucchini for about five minutes, adding additional olive oil to skillet if necessary. Turn off heat and add corn and rice; stir to combine. Cook for an additional three to five minutes to warm ingredients. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and lemon juice and gently stir in bell pepper and thyme; season with salt and pepper.
3. Arrange tomatoes and arugula on a plate; pour on rice mixture and top with mushrooms. May be served warm or cold.
Makes 8 servings
1 pound crimini mushrooms
2 whole eggs
2 green onions, minced
1 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons cracker crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1. Place the mushrooms in a food processor or blender. Chop until mushrooms are the size of rice grains. Empty into a strainer. Using a spatula, press the mushrooms against the wall of the strainer to press out most of the liquid.
2. Combine the eggs, onions, flour, cracker crumbs, salt, pepper, olive oil, soy sauce and ginger to make thick batter. Stir into the mushrooms.
3. Drop the mushroom batter by 1/4-cup fuls into a non-stick skillet or griddle. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, turning once, until pancakes are browned and set.
Test kitchen notes: Serve these meaty, richly flavored pancakes for brunch with an omelette or as a dinner side dish with roasted meats or grilled chicken.
SENTINEL TEST KITCHEN