If you have a question about mushrooms, Bart Minor is your guy.
As president and chief executive of the Mushroom Council for 16 years, he has a stunning depth of knowledge about edible fungi and an alarming enthusiasm about them.
Minor is particularly excited about what he sees as the latest miracle of mushrooms: their ability to mix with and boost the flavors of ground meat in foods such as burgers and chili, while simultaneously cutting calories, fat and costs. A sensory study funded by the council, to be published in the Journal of Food Science this fall, showed consumers generally preferred meat-mushroom blends in tacos compared to a 100 percent beef filling, citing increased aromas, flavors and moisture.
“This is revolutionary because it’s so simple. It’s meat and mushrooms. They go together like peanut butter and jelly,” Minor said.
These are two recipes that will tantalize your taste buds with the mushroom-meat mixture.
Basic Mushroom Meat Blend
8 servings (makes 4 cups)
MAKE AHEAD: The cooked mixture can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for up to six months.
1 pound white button mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 pound ground chicken, turkey, pork or lean ground beef
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Place the chopped mushrooms in a food processor; pulse until almost pureed. The consistency will resemble that of tapenade.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the mushrooms and half of the salt. Cook, stirring often, for 8-10 minutes. Some, but not all, of the mushrooms’ moisture will have evaporated.
Add the ground meat, pepper, the Worcestershire sauce and the remaining salt, stirring to incorporate. Cook, stirring often to break up the meat, for 10-12 minutes (depending on which meat you’ve chosen) until cooked through. Add water by the tablespoon during that time if the mixture seems dry before the meat is done.
If you’re using the blend right away, drain any remaining liquid from the skillet. For cold storage, retain the liquid; drain before using.
* Nutrition Per serving (using ground white-meat chicken): 120 calories, 15 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 780 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar
Mushroom-Blended Graffiti Burgers
8 servings (24 thick slider-size burgers)
MAKE AHEAD: It’s best not to let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for more than the recommended four hours, as its mushroom content will exude liquid. The uncooked patties can be frozen for up to one month. Defrost on a plate in the refrigerator for two hours, then drain before cooking.
2 1/2 ounces portobello mushroom caps, gills removed
2 1/2 ounces king oyster mushrooms (may substitute a gourmet mix of sliced mushrooms)
1 ounce white button mushrooms
1 pound ground beef, preferably 85-15 (lean meat/fat)
2 tablespoons finely diced onion
1 tablespoon seeded, finely diced tomato
2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon peeled, finely grated fresh ginger root
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 small red bird’s eye chili pepper, seeded and minced
1/3 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/3 teaspoon onion powder
1/3 teaspoon tomato powder (optional; see headnote and NOTE)
1/3 teaspoon ground coriander
1/3 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 teaspoon lemon grass powder (optional; see headnote)
Brioche buns, for serving (optional)
Clean the portobello, king oyster and white button mushrooms; stem the white button mushrooms. Finely chop them, or grind them in a food processor, to about the same consistency as the meat. Transfer to a large mixing bowl; add the ground beef, onion, tomato, cilantro, ginger, garlic, red chili pepper, turmeric, onion powder, tomato powder, if using, ground coriander, chili powder and lemon grass powder, if using.
Use clean hands to gently blend the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours and no more than four hours.
Spray a grill pan with cooking oil spray; heat over medium heat.
Meanwhile, shape the mixture into 8 thick patties of equal size. Lightly salt both sides of each patty; place on a plate or paper towels to catch any juices.
Working in batches as needed, arrange the patties in the hot grill pan, leaving at least an inch of space around each one.
Cook for 6-8 minutes or until a good crust forms on the bottom, then use two spatulas to carefully turn each one over. Cook on the second side for about eight minutes or until firm to the touch and cooked through. The burgers should not be pink inside.
Serve on buns, if desired.
NOTE: You can make tomato powder by grinding freeze-dried or dehydrated tomatoes. Look for Just Tomatoes at natural foods stores.
Nutrition Per serving: 130 calories, 11 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 70 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar