Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Inspiration: Wild Mushrooms

I love grocery shopping. I am a grocery shopaholic the way some women are shoe shopaholics. I revel in the process of browsing the shelves of various ethnic grocery store aisles, discovering new ingredients and inspirations. A few days ago, I ended up at a large Asian supermarket to stock up on my favourite snack - roasted wasabi seaweed snacks. Wandering around, a sale sign caught my eye (as per usual). On sale this week were beech mushrooms, a type I have seen on cooking shows but never had a chance to cook with myself. They are small, brown, and sold in a clump. Conveniently, they were placed next to two other delicious mushrooms: portabello and oyster. I gathered up three containers of deliciousness and brought them home. My original intention was to make mushroom rosemary tarts for a gathering, but after I was downed by a brutal headache, I was left with a fridge full of mushrooms and only two people to feed.

The insipiration

What, pray tell, is a kitchen goddess to do?

After perusing the other ingredients in the fridge, I caught sight of some chicken thighs. There are two things chicken tights are ideal for: first, grilling. It has been a very mild winter, but I wasn't quite in the mood to fire up the grill, so I turned to the second option: braising. To the internets I went and uncovered a recipe for braised chicken thighs with mushrooms from, BAM!, Mr. Emeril Lagasse. His recipe called for button mushrooms, but with the rosemary garlic flavour profile of the recipe, I thought my three mushrooms would bring good flavour and distinct textures in the stew. Besides, any mushroom recipe is better with anything other than button mushrooms.

As an aside, when researching links for this blog entry, I discovered that the latin name for beech (shimeji) mushrooms is the utterly un-pronouncable Hypsizygus tessellatus. My two years of Latin in undergrad did not prepare me to decipher tricky names of fungal growths. A mycologist would have better luck.

I made the recipe with a few Kisha modifications - one thing you will learn about me is I can't keep to a recipe (a very bad habit in baking) - and it turned out warm, earthy, with just a hint of cayenne heat. Served over brown rice with roasted asparagus on the side, it was a perfect February Sunday dinner. I had leftover gravy and rice, which I will be mixing together for our lunches tomorrow.

Slicing onions for the braising liquid
Browning the chicken - an important step that adds lots of flavour.

The final product

Parsley for the final touches and a hit of freshness

Dinner time!

Chicken Thighs Braised in Earthy Mushroom Gravy

Adapted from: Braised Chicken Thighs with Button Mushrooms (original recipe here),
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
  •  1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 4 chicken thighs (I used bone in, skin on, but would remove the skin next time)
  • 1 tablespoon Essence
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 package beech mushrooms, bottom cut off and stems pulled apart
  • 1 portabello mushroom cap, cubed
  • 8 oz oyster mushrooms, stems sliced and caps roughly torn
  • 1 cup sliced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste/sauce
  • 2 cups dark chicken stock**
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 4 cups steamed brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Set a Dutch over medium-high heat and add the oil. Season the chicken thighs with the Essence, salt and pepper. Place the chicken, skin side down in the pan and sear until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the chicken over and sear on the second side for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the butter and mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic to the pan and saute for 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook, stirring often to make a light brown roux, about 4 to 5 minutes (this gets sticky fast, but don't worry, the stock is coming to pick up all the delicious flavours that stick to the bottom of the pan). Add the tomato paste, stock** and rosemary to the pan, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side down and cook the chicken for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook until the meat is very tender, about 30 minutes. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon and taste. I found that I needed to add additional salt with my homemade chicken stock. Serve the chicken over rice.
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

**I make stock from all of my vegetable ends/peels that I accumulate in the freezer (onion ends, carrot peels, celery tops) and the leftover carcass from roast chicken that I also freeze if I don't make it immediately. This time I had some purple carrot peels from farmer's market carrots, so my stock turned purple. It was tasty though! **

If you made it this far, I'd appreciate your feedback This is my first food blog entry and constructive criticism is welcomed. K3F4CWGWRUS2


  1. It sounds so yummy honey!! Beautiful food from a gorgeous lady. Love you!

  2. Okay, I have got it on the stove right now -- so exciting! I also added a tiny splash of soy sauce, for some reason... I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks and PLEASE KEEP POSTING!!

  3. Let me know how it goes! Soy sauce is a good addition - mushrooms have lots of umami and so does soy sauce, so it should enhance that unctuousness that the mushrooms bring. I'll have to write an entry on umami at some point. Next up, pumpkin loaf!