In Season Wild Mushrooms

Wild mushrooms add earthy umami to hearty, cold-weather dishes.

Mushrooms can be found throughout the year, but colder weather is ideal for hearty dishes paired with earthy wild mushrooms. Chefs use many varieties, from lobster to oyster, to enhance savory dishes.

Brasserie by Upper Crust

The forest mushroom blend pops up in several places on the menu at Brasserie by Upper Crust in Columbia, Missouri. “They’re a great culinary sponge,” says chef de cuisine Peter Hawkins. “They’re going to absorb whatever you’re cooking with. Mushrooms also have an umami flavor to them, and that special flavor hits you on the back of the palate.” Hawkins sautés mushrooms including shiitake, cremini, trumpet and morel, depending on the season, with a light sherry and finishes them with butter and fresh chives. It’s a perfect accompaniment to Brasserie’s signature Coque au Cidre made with honey-lavender hen, potato-apple mash and local cider. There’s also a warming golden mushroom and steak soup on the menu this winter made with a cream base, mushrooms, sherry, saffron and beef tenderloin; in the spring, look for whole fried morels with house garlic butter.

Brasserie by Upper Crust, 3919 S. Providence Road, Columbia, Missouri, 573.874.3033, brasserieuc.com

Chef's Tip: “The biggest thing about mushrooms is they're a great substitute for meat – marinated, grilled and served as the main. It's a great way to extend whatever flavor you cook them with.” –Peter Hawkins, chef de cuisine, Brasserie by Upper Crust

Edgewild Bistro & Tap

Wild mushrooms are Aaron Baggett’s favorite ingredient to play with. Luckily, he gets to do that a lot in his position as executive chef of EdgeWild Bistro & Tap in Creve Coeur, Missouri. “The mushrooms [available now] have that fall-winter, warm and hearty feel to them,” Baggett says. “I’ve done a lot of heavy ones over the last couple years. This year, I’ll probably head more into the oyster [mushroom] range or if we can get lobster [mushrooms] for fun – something a little more delicate, where we can chill off its subtle side with a chicken or duck dish.” Baggett says the best way to get acquainted with different types of mushrooms is to cook them all the same way so it’s easier to understand the range of flavors and textures. “If you like sautéed mushrooms with garlic on top of your steak, just bring another mushroom to the party,” he says. “When you see something you haven’t had before, to me, that’s what’s exciting.” This fall, look for pappardelle pasta with shiitake, oyster and portobello mushrooms; pancetta; and Parmesan finished with truffle oil. If you’re lucky, Baggett will get his hands on some bright-red lobster mushrooms or even king oyster mushrooms, which have thick stems and can reach 8 inches in length.

EdgeWild Bistro & Tap, 12316 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur, Missouri, 314.548.2222, edgewildbistro.com

Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop

Lulu’s Thai Noodle Shop serves four curries at its locations in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District and Westwood, Kansas. The wild mushroom curry is not for the faint of heart: It’s the only variety that can’t be made mild. A base of coconut milk is heated in a wok; curry paste, spices, a desired protein – chicken, flank steak, tofu, shrimp, scallops or Chinese-roasted barbecue pork – and mushrooms are then added and served over jasmine rice. The red curry features portobello, straw, button and shiitake mushrooms, plus a medley of other fresh vegetables. “The curry is a bit spicy for some guests,” says chef-owner Malisa Monyakula, “but we can add more heat if desired, [like] fresh Thai chiles for anyone ordering ‘blazing.’” Monyakula says the wild mushroom curry is a customer favorite and promises the heat will get your endorphins going.

Lulu’s Thai Noodle Shop, multiple locations, lulusnoodles.com

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