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All About Mushrooms

“Mushrooms always seem like a missed opportunity in my cooking. They are a great canvas for flavor and offer a hearty, meat-like quality, yet I never showcase them much. Which kinds are your favorite to work with and how do you make them the star of a dish?” —Chloe, Kaukauna

You are absolutely correct—mushrooms are a healthy alternative to meat. As a matter of fact, companies have been developing healthy meat blends utilizing 50% cooked ground mushrooms as a low-fat meat extension. My favorite mushrooms to hunt for, find, prepare and eat are morel mushrooms. They have a very short season in the spring here in Wisconsin, and when you find the elusive morel mushroom growing wild it is really exciting! The most common mushroom eaten is the white button mushroom, otherwise known as a food service mushroom. Portobello mushrooms have grown in popularity as a meatless alternative for sandwiches and wraps. To make mushrooms the star of your culinary creations, find ways to enhance their flavor by using complementary supporting ingredients like butter, onions, shallots and garlic. Preparing stuffed mushrooms is another great way to feature them as the centerpiece. Another suggestion is to add a small amount of truffle oil, soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce to the mushroom dish you are preparing to enhance their savory umami flavor.

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