In the Wicked Kitchen on The Beet: Essential BBQ Mushroom Steaks
We love shrooms, and we love everything they can do for us, for the planet, and for the animals. They're so much better than meat! And judging by current mushroom trends, we're not alone. Mushrooms can become everything from nutritious meaty food to sustainable clothing.
Here are five reasons to make mushrooms a regular part of your meals, along with a recipe for Essential BBQ Mushroom Steaks, including a special Wicked technique for pressing and searing mushrooms that you can use in your own amazing creations.
1. Mushrooms Taste Great
It's easy to see why so many varieties of mushrooms are popping up in food markets these days. They taste amazing! Mushrooms are packed with "umami," that savory flavor compound that makes everything from meat to tomatoes to soy sauce taste good. It's the texture that sometimes throws people off. If that's you, try our patented Wicked mushroom technique, a.k.a., the Sarno Sear. You just press and sear your shrooms in a hot pan with another heavy pan on top. That flattens them, condensing both the texture and flavor, turning all kinds of shrooms from portobello and oyster to king oyster and lion's mane from soft and moist to incredibly dense, chewy, meaty, and delicious. Try our recipe for Essential BBQ Mushroom Steaks. You'll be hooked!
2. Shrooms Are Good For You
Mushrooms are showing up in everything from healing powders and pills to wellness teas and functional foods. Medicinal mushrooms like reishi, chaga, and lion's mane have been used to treat ailments in China and Japan for thousands of years. Now, the West is catching on and market watchers say the functional mushroom market is going to generate more than $69 billion in sales by the end of 2024. Yowza.
It's not snake oil. Plenty of studies show that all varieties of mushrooms are good sources of antioxidants that can help support the immune system. Mushrooms also help fight off viruses and harmful bacteria. There is even evidence that many varieties of mushrooms can help people reduce inflammation and help alleviate arthritis.
A few published studies have found that shiitake and maitake mushrooms can help reduce the risk of illnesses like Alzheimer's disease and cancer. And researchers have found that some mushrooms can help lower your blood sugar to help prevent diseases such as diabetes. Plus, mushrooms provide key minerals like potassium and zinc along with good doses of vitamin D and the B vitamins niacin and riboflavin. In fact, mushrooms are the only natural source of vitamin D in the produce aisle. Apart from meat, fish, eggs and fortified food products, the only other way for us to get vitamin D is through sun exposure. Hell yeah, shrooms!
3. Mushrooms Can Keep You Sane
Some of the most exciting developments in modern mushroom research are in the mental health field. "Magic" mushrooms have been used for therapeutic and religious purposes for hundreds and potentially thousands of years by Aztec, Mayan, Greek, and other indigenous cultures. But after a few too many bad LSD trips in the 1960s, magic mushrooms were deemed illegal in 1970 in the U.S. However, pioneering doctors continued to study the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms. They just did it underground. In the dark. These scientists weren't trying to get high and go on psychedelic trips. They saw lasting positive benefits in treating depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and substance abuse among their patients.
Now, lawmakers in the US. and UK are finally seeing the light. The US Food and Drug Administration recently granted "breakthrough therapy" status to psilocybin for a select few organizations, such as the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. Anticipating a sea change in psilocybin mushroom laws, more than 20 US companies have raised millions of dollars in funding and have gone public in the past year, and more than a dozen other companies have moved into the therapeutic mushroom space, according to a recent report.
Several recent studies have shown that psilocybin mushrooms can effectively relieve depression and anxiety. Some preliminary studies show that psilocybin may even be more effective than current antidepressants on the market. A recent survey of mental health studies found that 100 to 150 clinical trials using psychedelic compounds like psilocybin are currently being conducted around the United States. That’s all amazing news.
4. Mushrooms Are Sustainable
The best news of all is that mushrooms are among the most sustainable organisms on the planet. That probably explains why they're among earth's longest-living organisms. According to the US Mushroom Council, growing a pound of mushrooms requires only 1.8 gallons of water and 1.0 kilowatt-hours of energy. That's far less water than it takes to produce 1 pound of beef, which requires anywhere from 400 to 2,000 gallons, depending on where and how it's produced. Better yet, that 1 pound of mushrooms generates only 0.7 pounds of CO2 equivalent emissions, according to the Mushroom Council. Plus, growing mushrooms yields an average of 7.1 pounds of produce per square foot. That means up to 1 million pounds of mushrooms can be grown on just a single acre.
Delicious. Nutritious. Therapeutic. Sustainable. No wonder there's a mushroom movement afoot! If all of that isn't enough reason to hop aboard the mushroom train, what can we tell you? How about we start in the kitchen with a recipe so you can taste them for yourself. Seriously. This recipe is reason #5 to love mushrooms: Essential BBQ Mushroom Steaks. For more tasty mushroom recipes, check out our free e-book, the Wicked Mushroom Manifesto.
Here’s our signature Wicked pan-pressing technique for making show-stopping steaks with crispy edges and juicy centers seasoned just right. Use oyster mushrooms, Portobellos, lion’s manes, maitakes, or whatever you like. For the biggest steaks, use the biggest mushrooms you can find. Check out the video to get the hang of this method. Once you do, you’ll be slicing into swoon-worthy, meaty AF, sexy eats any time you please.
Prep Time: 15 Min
Cook Time: 25 Min
Total Time: 40 Min
ESSENTIAL BBQ MUSHROOM STEAKS
- 2 large clusters of brown oyster mushrooms (about 1 lb total)
- 4 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
- 4 tsp BBQ rub, such as Wicked Kitchen Hot & Spicy BBQ Rub
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt, if needed
- 1 cup your favorite BBQ sauce, such as Wicked Kitchen Asian Style BBQ Sauce
- 1/4 cup citrusy IPA beer
- 1 green onion (scallion)
- Heat the oven to 400ºF. Trim the mushroom stems, keeping the clusters in one piece.
- Get a large heavy pan like cast-iron ripping hot over medium-high heat and add half the oil, swirling to coat. Place the mushrooms stem side down in the pan then put another heavy pan over the mushrooms to gently weigh them down, but don’t press down hard yet or the shrooms will break. After a couple of minutes, fold up a kitchen towel and gently press it into the top pan to press the mushrooms. As the shrooms release water, apply firmer pressure to press the mushrooms. Pressing the first side will take 5 to 6 minutes.
- Sprinkle with half the BBQ rub, half the granulated garlic, and half the cracked black pepper, adding salt if your BBQ rub is salt-free. Flip the shrooms with tongs or a spatula and add the remaining half of the oil, shaking the pan to get the shrooms coated. Press firmly until they are seared, browned, and pressed to less than half their original thickness, another 5 minutes or so. Season the second side with the remaining seasonings. Continue pressing, searing, and flipping until both sides are slightly charred and crispy.
- Mix the BBQ sauce and beer in a bowl. Place the seared clusters gently in the bowl, pushing down to coat completely. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and add a little more BBQ sauce over the top. Bake until the sauce reduces to a glaze on the steaks, but doesn’t burn, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove to a cutting board. Thinly slice the green onion and scatter over the steaks. Thinly slice and enjoy!
Option: Melt some plant-based cheese on the insides of a long sandwich roll, then slice the steaks and serve in the rolls for a Wicked BBQ Mushroom Steak Sandwich!
This kicks off The Beet's Guest Chef Column. For more great exclusive content and what to cook this week, check back for updates as we add new chef columns every week!