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Mushroom Love

Monday 4th May 2015

Mushroom Love

It’s no secret that I love mushrooms (in particular, Slippery Jacks)…

Their meaty texture, the depth of flavour and the savouriness they give to a dish, the forest floor aroma that emanates from their general presence.

One particular(ly) fun-gi that encapsulates this situation is the Slippery Jack.

This mushroom is, indeed, slippery, and ‘goopy’ – great for pickling, preserving or sautéing in butter (come on Alice, what isn’t better with butter?).

These guys are so spongy that they absorb the scent of their pine forest home better than most, making autumn meals with Slipperies as the hero truly memorable.

Growing up, I’d go mushrooming with my parents, spending whole afternoons up in the mountains with the rest of the (mostly) migrant families, our buckets full of pine needles and pine mushrooms, hoping to stumble upon a crop of Slipperies.

We’d bring the bucket-loads home and spend the rest of the evening cleaning them with damp clothes (the extra stickiness made cleaning Slipperies the biggest chore – but you wouldn’t dare wash them, because they’d soak up all of the water like a dishrag). Dad would brine these with peppercorns and garlic, but keep some fresh for my favourite dish – slippery jacks with sautéed potatoes, caramelised onion and dill.

It wasn’t until very recently that I discovered, by way of The Mushroom Man, Damian Pike himself, that we’d been doing the Slipperies a disservice.

“Try crumbing and deep-frying them,” he said, “beauuuuuutiful”.

And it was.

I coated them in polenta and served them on a bed of the same by following the instructions on the packet (which I’d picked up from Delicatess), for a perfect autumnal meat-free meal.
If you want to go so far as to make them vegan, create a tempura batter using rice flour and soda water, then deep-fry as directed. Serve on a bed of steamed vegetables with ponzu for happiness from all involved.

Crumbed and Fried! Crumbed and Fried! Stunning slipperies. Stunning slipperies.

Here’s the recipe:

Polenta-crusted Slippery Jacks

Serves: 2

Prep Time: 30 mins (mostly mushie cleaning time)

Ingredients:
12 small slippery jacks, cleaned of debris and pine needles
2 eggs, beaten
50g plain flour (or gf flour of your choice if you’re that way inclined)
100g polenta
oil for frying (I’ve used organic canola from Ripe Organics)
salt flakes

Method:
1. Heat the oil to 180 C (you can tell by throwing some flour in and watching it turn brown within 5-10 secs)
2. Pop the flour, beaten eggs and polenta into separate bowls
3. Coat the slipperies in flour, then egg, then polenta
4. Deep-fry in the oil until polenta turns golden brown (2-3 mins)
5. Place onto paper towel to drain of excess oil
6. Toss with salt flakes and serve alongside your chosen creamy accompaniment (in my case, polenta, but something as easy as kewpie mayo is a great choice too!)

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