Mushroom Thyme Jerky

Oh, beef jerky. You are delicious and nutritious. Sometimes soft, sometimes chewy. Sometimes spicy, sometimes sweet. 

Mushroom jerky? Don't worry about it. It's a different sort of beast... chewy and savory, sure. Meaty, yes. But different. 

Here I roasted and dried four types of mushrooms in a two-step process. There are shiitake, oyster, clam shell, and shimeji. You're basically sucking out the moisture so all you're left with is the mushroom's essence: the earthy, umami-ed soul of the thing. 

What's great about using a variety of mushrooms is that you can get a range of textures. The shiitake get thin and leathery. You'll have to yank at it with your teeth. The oyster mushrooms are still pillowy, but not until your teeth snap through the surface. And the clam shell and shimeji are somewhere in between: chewy on the bottom, tender on top. 

It's not beef jerky, but it's just as good.


Preheat oven to 35o degrees Fahrenheit. Toss your mushrooms in olive oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle thyme on top. De-leaf them if you want the thyme to stick. Keep them whole if you want a lighter touch. Roast for 50 minutes then turn off the oven and leave there for two or more hours to dehydrate.

Slow-Cooked Button Mushrooms

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetMushrooms used to be a hard sell. It's hard to recall exactly why. Maybe it was their styrofoam pop. Their non-taste. The earthiness. The fact that they're fungi? And then mushrooms got exoticized. In my world, that started with the silky umbrella-like straw mushroom. The meaty portabello. The savory shiitake. As I got older and the food landscaped changed, then came morels, sponges for butter and cream, and maitake, coral reefs of crunch and soft, give and take.

Mushrooms got sexier, and I got more fanatical. One of my favorite dishes is a mushroom melange -- some mix of all of the mushrooms above and perhaps some enoki, trumpet, oyster, lobster, chanterelle.

But I'm a bit disgusted to read that. Snobby, right? The equivalent of a bland designer dress, all label and no style.

This dish goes out to the white button mushroom. I cooked them in the slowcooker to concentrate the mushroom flavor (no sear to distract) and to create mushroom consomme-type thing. Just don't call it normcore.

RECIPE: Wash and trim 2lbs of white button mushrooms. Leave them whole. Add to slow cooker with 2 diced onions or shallots, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, and a glug of white wine (3 tablespoons-ish). Slow cook on low for 4 hours. Before serving, add a knob of butter and parsley.