Oyster Mushrooms with Orzo

IMG_7538It seems like a funny time of year to be harvesting mushrooms, but I suppose as long as conditions are right, those little fungi are going to bloom! I’ve never been really confident on picking mushrooms, but there are a few that I know well, that are safe to eat. Oyster Mushrooms, Puff Balls, and Prince Mushrooms are so easy to identify in this region.

The oyster mushrooms were blooming all over a downed balsam-log. Mushrooms are the blooms of fungi that live in the ground, wood or organic matter (factoid).

There were about 8 feet of them, all over the top half of the log. I found them when they were perfect, the bugs and slugs hadn’t got to them, and they hadn’t started to dry out at the edges. A totally unexpected bounty! For dinner I made up a super easy orzo based risotto type dish. As we’d recently returned from travels, my pantry was quite depleted, but I had all I’d need to make an incredibly mushroomy dish.

I don’t expect that most people will stumble over an oyster mushroom laden log conveniently behind their chicken house, but if you do, harvest those beauties for your meal. If you don’t stumble over such a log, buy some at a grocery store.

Click here for printable version.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 oz oyster mushrooms

1½ T olive oil

leaves from 5 or 6 sprigs of fresh thyme

½ t salt

3 c chicken or vegetable stock

2 T butter

1 medium onion – ¼” chop

1 good-sized clove of garlic – minced

8 oz orzo (just over a cup)

½ c grated parmesan (about 2 oz)

1 T butter

Directions:

Chop the mushrooms into medium sized pieces – nothing more than an inch

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Heat the olive oil in a skillet.

Add in the mushrooms and thyme leaves and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally while working on the orzo mixture.

Sprinkle the salt over them once they’ve had a chance to heat through.

When the mushrooms have turned golden, and have softened (about 8 minutes), turn off the heat, and reserve.IMG_7545IMG_7549

Heat the stock in a medium saucepan until simmering.

Heat the butter in a deep skillet, over medium heat.

Add in the onion & garlic to the skillet, cooking & stirring for about 3 minutes, until translucent.

Add in the orzo, and stir, cooking, until it is all glistening from the oil, about 2 minutes.IMG_7544

Add in the stock, about a cup at a time, stirring gently until all the liquid is absorbed.IMG_7546

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Just before you add in the last cup of stock, add in the mushrooms and thyme leaves.IMG_7553

Then add in the rest of the stock, and continue cooking until the orzo is tender.

If you need to add a touch more water to finish cooking the orzo, just add in about ¼ c of hot water.

Just before serving, stir in the grated parmesan and the final tablespoon of butter.IMG_7555

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Serve immediately & enjoy!

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