I haven’t really done a Halloween recipe for you guys this year. This is likely the closest you’ll get. The vibrant orange of the mushrooms and the glossy black of the balsamic reduction make it festive enough for my liking. Next year I hope to be less busy and more in-your-face.
I actually received these mushrooms, Chicken of the Woods, from local brewer/Tired Hands Brewing Company owner Jean Broillet IV. He found a bunch of them on a tree and they were super young and ready for munching. I will still never understand where people get this knowledge of nature, I certainly do not have it. Jean however, is impressive and does have this knowledge; he picked them and gave me some to cook with.
I sautéed some in a skillet with a bit of olive oil and salt/pepper to try them and get a good feel for what they are all about. Incredibly chicken-like in texture with great woodsy flavor, I decided to incorporate them into a pasta dish using a light oil-based sauce and a small batch spice blend I just received from Pantry Provisions. (A blend of white and Malabar peppercorns and French lavender, Avignon is a refreshing substitute for your standard cracked pepper. I’m a big fan. Obvi.) Top it off with some arugula, parm and balsamic and you have a super quick but light meal with massive depth of flavor.
A word of warning, some people have allergic reactions to this mushroom. If you’ve never had it before, try a little on its own before devouring the whole fucking tree.
Angels on Shrooms
6 oz fresh angel hair pasta
½ cup olive oil, divided
½ small red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup chicken of the woods mushroom, roughly chopped
1 ½ tsp Pantry Provisions Avignon (a pepper blend)
¼ c pasta water
½ lemon, juiced
coarse sea salt
freshly shaved parmesan cheese
a handful of baby arugula
½ cup balsamic vinegar
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Drizzle a bit of olive oil into it and throw in a sprinkle of salt.
In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium-low heat. Throw in onion and garlic. Cook 5-7 minutes until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant. Add in mushrooms, salt and Avignon. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes.
In a small saucepan, bring the balsamic to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat to let cool. Be careful not to overcook.
Meanwhile, drop the fresh pasta in the pot once it begins to boil. Bring it back up to a boil and then cook for 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, remove to a large serving bowl.
To the pasta, add the finished mushroom mixture, ¼ cup of the hot pasta water, ¼ cup olive oil, fresh lemon juice and a generous sprinkling of sea salt. Toss.
Taste to ensure the seasoning is to your liking, add more salt and Avignon if desired.
Just before serving, toss in a handful of arugula and some large shavings of a hard parmesan cheese. Drizzle with balsamic. Serve with some crusty bread and a good beer.