Not those kind of mushrooms, silly. You want these mushrooms — namely, dried porcini mushrooms — in your kitchen. They keep indefinitely in your pantry and can easily be reconstituted for use with pasta, risotto, soups and sauces. Or you can simply blitz the heck out of them and turn them into dust.
Porcini mushroom dust is a magical elixir, fragrant with umami-rich aroma and flavor, and a gorgeous ingredient to add to rubs and marinades. Its earthy, smoky flavor melds beautifully with garlic and herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, and is an excellent complement to meats, such as beef and lamb, when used as a rub.
While dried porcini mushrooms are pricey by the pound, the good news is that you don't need a lot of them to make this rub — all you need is a half-ounce. When the mushrooms are dried, their flavor intensifies, so a little goes a long way. Other dried mushrooms, such as shiitakes, may be substituted, but in terms of flavor, the porcini is best. I use a spice grinder to blitz the mushrooms before mixing them with the rub ingredients, for a pasty consistency. If you don't have a spice grinder, you can use a mini-food processor, with slightly coarser results.
Note: If the dried mushrooms are slightly spongy and not entirely crisp before grinding, cut them into 1/2-inch pieces, spread on a small baking tray, and place in a 300-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature before grinding.
Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
• 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
• 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 1 large garlic clove, minced
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 8 lamb loin chops, each about 1-inch thick
Finely grind the mushrooms in a spice grinder. Transfer to a small bowl and add 3 tablespoons oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and black pepper and stir to blend.
Coat the lamb on all sides with the rub and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the lamb to the pan without overcrowding. Cook until brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook to your desired doneness, about 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Lynda Balslev is the co-author of "Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture" (Gibbs Smith, 2014). Contact her at TasteFood, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or send email to TasteFood@TasteFoodBlog.com. Or visit theTasteFood blog at TasteFoodBlog.com.