As someone who obsessively talks about, writes about, takes pictures of, and reads about food, I love asking people what foods they love and which ones they can’t stand. The number one answer I get for foods people can’t tolerate?
To be fair, I’ve heard a lot of justifications for it—they taste like dirt. The textures are weird. I just don’t know how to cook them or clean them. And all of those are fair reasons! But I’m here to try to change your mind in time for you to buy a ticket to The Chopping Block’s Magic of Mushrooms class with Windy City Mushroom.
I’ve proudly converted quite a few mushroom haters over the years. Here are my tips and tricks to get even the pickiest eater to try a bite.
1. Dry roast them.
The number one crime of mushrooms, according to my detailed field research, is that they are too slimy. In my experience, this usually means that someone’s been keeping mushrooms around for too long, storing them the wrong way, or overusing liquid in their preparations (don’t even get me started on cream of mushroom soup).
If someone tells you that mushrooms are too slimy for them, change their mind by dry roasting a sheet tray of oyster mushrooms with an umami-packed seasoning. Roast them low and slow in the oven, then serve them with a creamy polenta, a garlic and parsley butter sauce, and watch your mushroom hater convert into a mushroom lover before your eyes!
2. Explore more varieties!
I think a lot of people are traumatized from the same mushrooms that traumatized me as a kid: the kind that come in a plastic-wrapped container from a big box grocer. They’re usually slippery, flavorless, and just plain depressing. I can’t even think about them too long without getting so sad for people who think that those poor containers are all that mushrooms have to offer.
The first time I encountered mushrooms at the farmers’ market, I was mind blown. There were so many textures and colors that I almost couldn’t believe it. From oysters to lion’s mane to hen of the woods, those varieties shine with everything that those supermarket shrooms lack. Find a local mushroom farmer (like Windy City Mushroom) and ask them for help to pick something out that will surprise your mushroom-hating friend.
3. Build up a strong flavor profile.
When your friendly mushroom farmer picks something out for you, ask them what kind of cooking your mushrooms will lend themselves well to. Some mushrooms have more of an earthy taste than others, which can be hard to cover if someone doesn’t care for that funk. Choosing a more neutral shroom can allow you to layer things like high-quality olive oil, chili crisp oil, beautiful herbs and spices, and delicious sauces into your dish to mask (and complement) the mushroom’s flavor.
4. Don’t just treat mushrooms like you would meat!
I’m a vegetarian, so I always appreciate people thinking about how to create meat substitutes for me. But I swear, if I’m offered one more portabella cap “burger”... I think too often, people think of mushrooms as just another meat substitute instead of a beautiful, complex, flavorful vegetable.
Don’t get caught in this trap—come to The Magic of Mushrooms class on Tuesday, March 19 at 6pm (February's class is already sold out!) to help learn how to lift up these amazing foods instead of avoiding them.