Valley Bounty: Mushrooms

Mushrooms have inhabited the woods of New England since long before human beings made their way here across the Bering Land Bridge, but it wasn’t until the 17th century that the Western world made any real progress on cultivating mushrooms for culinary use (only trailing about a millennium behind East Asia on that particular front). Today, we’re lucky to have a number of local businesses growing mushroom varieties like shiitake, oyster, and lion’s mane, as well as inoculated logs for growing your own shiitakes at home (a great holiday gift idea for the culinary-minded mycophile in your life).

The shiitake’s mild, earthy flavor grants it the versatility to appear in a wide variety of dishes and cuisines, from stir fries to pasta dishes to omelets. If you’re looking to class it up for the holidays, try sautéing shiitakes and shallots in butter until they just start to brown, then add some thyme and about a cup of red wine. Simmer until the wine is reduced by half, then stir in a little more butter and a pinch each of salt and pepper. This classic sauce is excellent on roast beef or steak (and I think it goes pretty well with scrambled eggs, too).

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)