Brilliant yellow butter infused with the color and subtle aroma of fresh lobster mushrooms is a good way to get the most out of your mushrooms, or even just some scrap and trim.
This is hands down one of the coolest things I discovered cooking with lobster mushrooms. Here's the story.
I was on the line at Heartland one evening. It wasn't so busy that I couldn't work on some projects in my spare time, so I set about trying to preserve some of the haul of lobster mushrooms that had come in recently. We had plenty of lobster mushroom pickles and conserve already, so I wanted to preserve them a different way.
Thinking about the affinity for lobster and butter gave me the direction I was looking for. I took twenty pounds or so of whole lobster mushrooms, put them in a large hotel pan, and then covered them with butter and a sprinkle of salt, a couple garlic cloves, and some herbs.
I put the whole thing in the oven and cooked it slow, until the lobster mushrooms were completely done-the intention being to keep them preserved underneath the butter after it solidified in the cooler, like you would duck confit.
When I took the pan out of the oven, I noticed something interesting-all the butter had turned brilliant orange, and the whole pan reeked like lobster mushrooms.
Now, if you know a thing or two about butter, you know that it takes on the flavor of what it comes into contact with. To clarify a bit too, "contact" doesn't have to be physically touching or cooking. In fact, butter takes on flavor so well that you have to be careful, storing it in a fridge with unwrapped, sliced onions will make your butter taste like onions; the same will happen if butter is stored next to any ingredient that's aromatic or has a strong smell.
The butter turning orange is something I had noticed with lobster mushrooms before, while making little batches of risotto a couple years back.
The red fungal coating on the outside of the mushroom acts like saffron when it comes into contact with heat and fat. You don't have to use the whole mushrooms for this either, I've done experiments just scraping the red coating off or using trim, and it works just fine.
This time though, I had a lot of the orange butter, and with the multitude of lobster mushrooms cooked in it, it tasted just like them: sublte shrimp and mushroom flavor, all at the same time.
Everyone on the line was intrigued, and after that I remember forgetting about the lobster mushrooms. I moved on to experimenting with just the butter itself, I felt like I'd discovered something; unlocked a secret no one knew.
Here's some ways the butter is fun to use:
- Use it just like clarified butter....
- You could cook lobster mushrooms in the lobster mushroom infused butter to really layer the flavor.
- If you make a big batch of the stuff (the recipe below yields 8 cups, which is ample) you can poach things in it, chicken, fish or vegetables, like cauliflower are great.
This year I planned on doing more experiments with the lobster butter. I wrote down some proportions that work great, and the best part is that you don't have to sacrifice any of your lobster mushrooms to make it.
Like I mentioned before, the color and flavor transference is locked in the red coating of the mushroom, so all you really need is some scrap and trim. Afterwords, you can cook with the butter just like you would clarified butter. There are some really cool recipes we've come up with over the years for using this funky stuff-I'll share some with you soon.
Lobster Mushroom Infused Butter
- 1 2-3 quart sauce pot
- 1 lbs lobster mushroom scrap and trim roughly chopped
- 1 lbs unsalted butter
- 1 cloves of garlic lightly crushed with the back of a knife
- Sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Melt the butter in a small stock pot or sauce pan, add the lobster mushrooms, salt, and remaining ingredients and cook the mixture on very low heat for 1 hour, or until the butter is aromatic and it's color is a dramatic orange. Skim the creamy milk solids that rise to the top of the butter occasionally and discard.
- Strain the solids from the butter and discard, then refrigerate until needed, I like to store it in mason jars, since glass won't transfer the flavors of other things to the butter.
- It can be frozen for a long time, I've cooked with some that was nearing two years old and it hadn't seemed to have lost any of it's potency.
I cooked some lobsters the other morning and then used the pan to fry an egg and the red actually striped the fried egg and it looked like something fancy and intentional - the end result all on toast was a morning of heaven.
The smell from the lobster butter mix on the stove is enticing! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! Do the mushrooms retain any flavor or have any use after straining out the butter?
If you're using clean mushrooms to make the butter, sure, they'll keep some flavor, just hit them with some salt.
Thank you for this great website and recipes.
I am a bit intrigued with the Lobster mushroom infused butter.
When used to fry an egg it becomes a bright fuchsia (very different from the orange butter) is this common or did I burn it? In your experience is it ok to eat it like this? Elsewhere you mentioned that cooked lobsters spoil rapidly if refrigerated for more than a day or two, is the pink color an indication of spoilage? how long can the butter be stored under refrigeration?
Thank you, Carlos
It is not common, and I have never encountered that. I would question the freshness of the lobsters you used-as fuschia would make me think they were purple, which would mean they were past prime. Either way I don't think the dangerous compounds are fat soluble but it's probably better safe than sorry. I would get rid of it.
I had the same experience, i thought everyone did. As far as i know, eggs turn purple when fried in butter that was used to fry lobster mushrooms.
This could also be a reaction from cast iron. That definitely reacts to somethings and changes colors.
I have had my "after sautéing lobstah" pan color my fried eggs a fuchsia, also. Even after many washes, it continues to do it. It has nothing to do with how fresh the mushrooms are, I am sort of picky of what goes in a pan from foraging and have ample supplies of Hypomyces lactifluorum in my area. It has to do with the iron pans, if you don't use one, you won't notice it.
That’s pretty interesting. I might use a iron pan just to see myself!
I know I’ve cooked elderberry’s n a stainless steel pan and when rinsing out the residue it turns a strong blue color
Can this butter be made with dried lobster mushrooms? It seems like it might work if you're just looking for the coating, but I thought I'd double check. I have dried on hand and really wanted to try this recipe. I'd thought about rehydrating the mushrooms first, but since you pour out the mushroom juice I don't know if its even useful in this recipe... might make it easier to use the mushrooms afterwards, though...
No, you need to use fresh lobster mushrooms. Dried lobsters have some compounds denatured through dehydration process. You need to have the fresh red coating, which is more fat soluble fresh than dried.
Alright. Thanks for letting me know 🙂
I've learned so much from your website, videos, and recipes this year as I've begun foraging for mushrooms - thank you!
Have you used sulphur shelf fungi to infuse butter with color and flavor?
Hi Lauri, sulphur shelves won't work the same way for this.
Thanks for this recipe and I really appreciate the all the background info you include. You suggest to strain the butter after cooking and discard the solids. I wonder about using the discarded mushroom bits as the base for a bisque or something else. Have you used the discards in another dish or do you have suggestions?
If you use large pieces as for my lobster mushroom confit, you could, but re-using scrap or trim wouldn't be worth it. I'd fry them up, pureeing into soup wouldn't do too much.
I’m excited to make this, but I’m wondering if I’m missing something — In the intro it says that this recipe produces 8 cups, but it only calls for 1 pound of butter. Is that correct?
The recipe produces 3/4 cup, which is what I put in the yield.