Mushrooms

There’s a real technique to cooking mushrooms. Most people make the five tragic mushroom errors before the shrooms even have a chance to get warm. Those five errors are:

1) Washing the mushrooms with water.

2) Slicing them crosswise.

3) Adding the mushrooms to the pan before the pan is even hot.

4) Not using enough fat.

5) Crowding the pan with too many mushrooms.

By increasing the water content of the mushrooms while simultaneously increasing the surface area for cooking by slicing them thinly, a brown sear becomes a virtual impossibility. And the sear, people, is what making the perfect sautéed mushroom is all about.

So never wash mushrooms. If you see visible dirt, brush it off with your finger or a dry paper towel or custom mushroom brush (soft bristle toothbrushes work fine, but I’m just not that anal).

When you cut them, quarter them, so that all the mushrooms will be in direct contact with the skillet.

Do not overload the pan! Use either a bigger frying pan or fewer mushrooms, but never cook mushrooms more than 1 layer deep. You’ll see the single layer technique in the video.

Use plenty of fat, preferably from leftover meat searing or plain ol’ butter, and fry these puppies up. If you don’t use enough fat, they will kind of dry cook, not get brown, but instead get dehydrated. Make sure there is so much fat that even the great fat-sponge, the mushroom, cannot soak it all up.

Salt them well, and serve right away. A perfectly-cooked mushroom does not need the help of garlic or onion, which can actually pollute and overpower the clean taste of a pure, plain, mushroom. Because the mushroom is the ultimate fat sponge, it is a fantastically delicious accompaniment to many savory meals. And the mushrooms don’t exactly have to be white truffles to be good. The plain, white button mushroom or crimini can be turned into a culinary delicacy when cooked just right. With this video, and the careful instruction on mushroom cookery given in 180 Kitchen, I hope you can get it down.

And for the Love of God – Don’t stir ’em or shake the pan too much!  Let them get brown before you even think about touching them. 

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Crispy-Skin Sockeye Salmon

Ten or so days ago I talked about Vitamin D in wild-caught sockeye salmon on the 180 podcast.  Other than cod livers and herring, both things you’ll be hard pressed to find or be able to eat in large quantity, Alaskan sockeye seems to be the richest whole food source of vitamin D in ze world.  It is even more important this time of year (in the Northern Hemisphere), to get as much vitamin D from your diet as possible.  At any kind of latitude, winter sun is insufficient to simulate vitamin D synthesis in the skin – our primary source of this mighty vitey.

So now that we’re deeply into the dark days of winter, it’s time to go salmon crazy.  It is thought that humans need, between sun and diet, up to 4,000IU of vitamin D each day – maybe more.  While this is easy to get in summer months while basking in the sun (a highly recommended 180 pastime), it is almost impossible to get through diet.  I won’t stop you from chugging cod liver oil, but I can tell you that I’m eating at least one pound of salmon per week – sometimes two, and will be keeping this up until at least early March. 

Although estimates differ, a 100 gram portion of sockeye can have up to 1,000IU of vitey D.  That means a pound has close to 5,000IU, give or take.  While this is certainly not 4,000 per day at a rate of 1 pound per week, it’s something substantial (the average American is lucky to ingest 200IU of vitamin D per week from whole food sources), and can hopefully tide me over until spring where I will be baking out in the sun, sans sunscreen, and getting well over 10,000IU per day.  Vitamin D is a beautiful thing, and the vast majority of modern humans are thought to have major D deficiencies according to blood serum levels.  This is particularly true if you are dark-skinned, live at far Northern or Southern latitudes, and don’t spend much time in the sun, minimally clothed without sunscreen.

And we’re just talking vitamin D here.  This says nothing of the potentially vital long chain omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA – salmon being among the best if not THE best source in the world, or salmon’s off-the-charts content of vitamin B-12 and the mineral selenium, both thought to be nutrients of equal importance.  Selenium is thought to be one of the greatest assets in avoiding heart disease.   

So, without further ado, here is a video on searing up some nice, crispy-skinned wild Alaskan sockeye salmon.  Enjoy with some vitamin A-rich butter, spinach, fried yams, and so forth. 

Note, to get Vitamin D in salmon, the salmon must be wild-caught salmon.  Amongst wild-caught salmon, sockeye has the highest level. 

For more on Vitey D, check out this short post at 180 Bloggie-Style

Crank your volume a little so you can hear me over the sizzle. 

Larkburger

Remember that dumb “what if God was one of us” song?  Well, I recently found out precisely what and where God would eat if he was one of us…

Larkburger

I’ve heard about this place from about five people now.  So as I drove through the lil’ Colorado Vail-wannabe town of Edwards, I cruised on in to see what all the hype was about. 

I looked up at the mighty menu of this modern-designed eco-friendly restaurant with potato plasticware and corn cups.  Item #1 was the Larkburger.  Item #2 was the Truffle larkburger – a 1/3 pound angus patty with truffled aoili.  I read no further.

I ordered a truffle larkburger with cheese, rare.

In a couple minutes it came out, wrapped in a nice little piece of recycled paper in a recycled box.  Then, I took a bite.

It was then that I realized where God came up with the name for his one and only begotten son.  “Jesus Christ” I shouted. 

This was, and I kid you not, the most incredible burger the world has ever known.  I love burgers too.  This was in an entirely new league.  The bun had this crispy outside edge that crunched in your mouth like a cheeseball or something.  The truffle aoili I figured would be overshadowed by the patty and cheese, but I was wrong.  The truffle flavor prevailed.  It was incredible. 

The meat itself was so succulent and delicious.  It oozed with buttery black angus fat.  I haven’t been so overwhelmingly impressed with something served at a restaurant in a long time. 

It was so good, that I say with confidence that if Don Gorske, who has eaten over 21,000 Big Macs took one bite of this badboy, fuhgeddaboudit!  He would never touch a Big Mac again. 

Larkburger is here to stay, soon to be a legend.  They just opened up location #2 in Boulder, where it will soon have a cult following if it doesn’t already.  If people in Boulder knew what was good for ’em, Whole Foods, Alfalfa’s, and what was the original Wild Oats would close down overnight, and there would be a hippie and yuppie stampede over to Larkburger. 

Seriously, if you are ever even close to the state of Colorado, take a trip to Larkburger.  It is a destination burger joint.  Forget coming to Colorado to ski, see some mountains, hike, mountain bike, or whatever.  All that is just in the periphery now.   The main reason to come to this state is now Larkburger.

Lobby congress, threaten to jump off of  a building – do whatever you can to get Larkburger to come to your town. 

Check it out at www.larkburger.com

P.S. – After reading some reviews, sounds like the Boulder location isn’t quite up to par with the Edwards location – especially with the service.  But I’m sure it’s still yummy beyond words.

Published in: on December 10, 2009 at 8:45 am  Comments (6)  
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