Image via WikipediaFall is special for many reasons here in the Pacific North West, but my favorite thing about fall is that I can finally make all of my LA friends jealous of the Farmers' Markets up here. Sure, you get tomatoes year round, but you ain't got nothin' on North West Mushrooms. That's right, it's mushroom season big time here in Oregon, and there is no better place to be when mushroom season rolls around.
Aside from the abundance of obvious, well known 'shrooms that grow wild all over the Willamette Valley (chanterelles, maitakes, and truffles, to name a few. . . ooooh truffles), the climate is also perfect for some lesser known and truly delicious delicacies. Today I picked up a few, including the chicken of the woods, which believe or not actually tastes and has a texture similar to chicken. Also, I grabbed a few lobster mushrooms, which aside from being red on the outside and white on the inside, actually have a distinct seafood flavor that lends them their name.
|Chicken of the Forest - actually tastes like chicken|
|Lobster Mushroom - actually tastes like lobster|
There was much talk today amongst strangers at the market about how best to cook these delectable fungi, sauteed in butter or tossed in a pasta e.g., but my favorite thing to do with just about any mushroom is make risotto, which I will surely be doing this weekend, as it fits nicely with the October: Unprocessed challenge. For a basic risotto recipe, see my post on Wild Mushroom Risotto from last year. The wonderful thing about this dish is that the risotto provides a rich creamy base that supports the mushroom flavor, lifts it to the fore and lets it shine. The slight crunch of al dente rice is also a nice backdrop for the unique textures that the variety of wild mushrooms have to offer. This is not a dish for the feint of heart, but for those with clear arteries and good exercise routines, it is the ultimate in sinful savory satisfaction.