Upscale fried mushrooms

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Late last year, my niece came with me to one of Berkshire Grown's annual holiday markets at Williams College. She's in med school in Connecticut, and we share a love of healthy, wholesome, local foods (even though she's vegan and I am definitely, definitely not).

We met up midway through our shopping to check out our respective purchases; she found local oyster mushrooms at a stall, but neither of us caught the name.

"They're so good," she told me, "When you bread and fry them, they taste just like oysters and you can make po'boy sandwiches with them."

Well, guess what?! She headed back to Connecticut and forgot her oyster mushrooms. Ha! I decided to try her idea, but because I'm not a fan of breaded things between more bread, I just fried them and ate them loose, with hot sauce. Turns out she's very right — these mushrooms have way more umami flavor than your run-of-the-mill brand, and when fried, they definitely taste of oysters, and would be amazing in a po'boy sandwich. Or alone. With hot sauce.

Panko-breaded fried oyster mushrooms

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

1 pound oyster mushrooms

2 cups flour

1 package panko breadcrumbs

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Hot sauce of your choosing

Directions:

Lightly wash your mushrooms, then off with their heads! Cut the "oyster" part off the body, leaving a bit of the tender stalk.

Set up your breading station: Use two dishes and three plates, adding flour to one dish and panko breadcrumbs to the other. Mix salt and pepper into the flour. In your bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.

Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil (I used grapeseed oil because it has such a high smoke point, but vegetable oil is fine) to a small or medium heavy-bottom skillet/pan, and heat to medium on your stovetop.

Take a loose handful of your prepared mushrooms and dip them in the egg mixture, taking care to cover 100 percent of the surface area. Then dip them in your flour mix, again covering as much surface area as you can. Dip them back in the egg mixture, then roll in breadcrumbs until totally covered.

You need tongs for this next step. Once oil is hot, place breaded mushrooms in it, then let them sit (don't move them around!) for 2 to 3 minutes, or until nice and brown, and crispy on one side. Use tongs to flip over and brown as much surface area as possible, then let sit on a plate lined with paper towel. I also place a kitchen towel/clean cloth on top of mushrooms as I'm cooking the batch — it will keep them nice and warm until you've finished frying.

Eat with hot sauce, ranch dressing or whatever makes you happy.

To buy oyster mushrooms

I found more oyster mushrooms at Guido's in Pittsfield, but according to Berkshire Grown, you can also find local oyster mushrooms through the following farms:

Moon in the Pond Farm

Sheffield, Mass.

Phone: 413-229-3092

Email: dom@mooninthepond.org

Mycoterra Farm

Westhampton, Mass.

Julia Coffey

Email: mycoterrafarm@gmail.com

Woven Stars Farm

Ghent, N.Y.

Phone: 508-254-0833

Email: wovenstarsfarm@gmail.com


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