Way back, a long time ago, I wrote a recipe for braising a lobster mushroom whole, and, while it was an ok way to cook them, as the years past, the recipe has been on my list to update, so here you go. The original recipe was a simple stewed mushroom cooked whole, and while I liked the dramatic plating it gave me when I would serve it occasionally for vegans and vegetarians in my restaurant days, serving lobsters whole can be tricky if they’re dirty, and cutting the lobster mushrooms into larger chunks makes it easier for seasoning to penetrate them. That being said, you could still do the same large chunk of the original recipe, but maybe keep the hunks of lobster to 2-3 ounces, and serve 2-3 at a time instead of just one.
Braising (or boiling) lobster mushrooms is a common technique used in South America, especially in the Mihoacan where they’re commonly hunted. Instead of par boiling them here, I brown them in fat, add some alliums (garlic and leek) some wine, and, the magic ingredient: tomato concasse, or peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes that eventually break down and make a rich sauce that would be good with just about anything. Besides helping to thicken the sauce, the tomato also helps absorb a good glob of butter at the end, which is one of the secrets to making a simple ragu of wild mushrooms that are generally pretty mild taste so good. You could easily substitute other large, meaty mushrooms like chicken of the woods, hen of the woods, or chunks chanterelles too, but the meaty lobsters are extra special here.
Braised Lobster Mushrooms with Tomato and Leek
- 4 oz bacon or make it vegetarian and use cooking oil
- 1 lb lobster mushrooms washed, cleaned, and cut into 1.5-2 inch pieces
- 3 oz 1 heaping cup leek, diced 1 inch
- 2 large cloves garlic thinly slices
- Pinch dried chili
- 1.5 cups chicken or mushroom stock
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1.5 cups tomatoes blanched, seeded, and diced into 1 inch pieces, juice reserved (see note)
- 2 tablespoons dried ground lobster mushrooms optional
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons sliced or torn fresh mint or basil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- In a wide 12 inch or similar sized pan, render the bacon and reserve, leaving the fat in the pan. Brown the lobster mushrooms in the bacon fat on medium high for 10-15 minutes, seasoning with the salt and pepper along the way.
- Push the mushrooms to the side of the pan and add the garlic, along with a little extra oil if needed. Cook the garlic until it’s light brown and aromatic, then add the leeks and ground mushrooms if using and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the chili.
- Deglaze the pan with the wine, cook down by half, then add the stock and bring to a rapid boil. Add the tomatoes and their reserved juice along with the rendered bacon and cook on medium-high for 15-20 minutes or until slightly thickened.
- Double check the seasoning for salt, adjust as needed, then add torn mint to taste, and serve with a vehicle for the juices, like soft polenta or crusty bread.