Monday, May 17, 2010

Chicken Shiitake Manicotti in Garlic Cream Sauce

When I was younger I used to hunt for morel mushrooms with my older brothers in the woods behind our house. I guess that is when I learned other mushrooms existed besides the white button variety so plentiful in US supermarkets and salads. Other than that, however, my mushroom knowledge was limited.

Fast forward 20 years and I still know very little about mushrooms, but I’m learning. Two things I’ve learned is that they offer multiple health benefits and they are highly respected ingredients in the culinary world with deep, complex flavors.

After reading food blogs and articles about mushrooms I was beginning to think they were another one of those gourmet ingredients most plentiful on the food-rich coasts of the US or abroad. Then I learned of The Hoosier Mushroom Company. Yep, an Indiana company. Not only am I living close to Indiana, but I am originally from there. That’s where we did all that morel hunting as kids.

The Hoosier Mushroom Company is a small, family run operation in Nashville, Indiana that began as a mushroom farm growing six varieties - Oyster, Shiitake, Maitake, Lion's Mane, Nameko, and Reishi. Despite the fact that morel hunting is a pretty big deal in Indiana, there were very few resources in the state for mushroom hunting. This company has evolved into that much needed resource.

It is now both a retail shop in Brown County, Indiana and an online store. Mycologists on staff are available to help hunters identify mushrooms, and books, hunting and cultivation supplies are all available. The store offers gourmet foods like dried mushrooms and truffle oils, and even mushroom-inspired gifts.

I, of course, was interested in the gourmet food, and the kind owners, Megan and Stephen, sent me two packs of mushrooms to try -- Organic Dried Shiitakes and Organic Black Trumpet Mushrooms.


I started with the Shiitakes and researched a bit why I could benefit from these little nutritional powerhouses. First of all, edible mushrooms are considered functional foods which are sometimes given the name nutraceuticals. According to the American Cancer Society animal studies which are now expanding to human studies show that Shiitakes have three main health benefits. They are considered antitumor, cholesterol-lowering and virus-inhibiting.

Shiitakes contain lentinan which is a beta-glucan. Beta-glucans stimulate the immune system and activate the attack of cancer cells. This has been associated with slowing tumor growth. Another component of shiitakes, eritadenine, has been found to lower blood cholesterol levels because it blocks the way cholesterol is absorbed into the blood stream.


The great site, WH Foods, reports that Shiitakes contain antioxidants. These mushrooms have one of the highest concentrations of L-ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant. The best part? This antioxidant doesn’t appear to be destroyed when the mushrooms are cooked.

All set to get cooking and enjoy these health benefits, I decided to combine the shiitakes with some leftover local, pastured chicken we grilled last week. It resulted in a manicotti filled with delicious mushrooms, tender chicken and creamy ricotta cheese. The sauce is made with sweet roasted garlic. If you want to use less dairy feel free to substitute a stock for the milk in the sauce. I added a lot of black pepper to this dish which ended up giving it a nice, mildly spicy background flavor that goes well with the mushrooms.

You don’t have to slave over the stove long to make this dish. It comes together pretty quickly, but you do need to start a little ahead of time to roast your garlic and reconstitute your mushrooms.

Chicken Shiitake Manicotti in Garlic Cream Sauce

Preparation:
Olive oil
1 head garlic
1 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
Boiling water

Manicotti:
6 manicotti, cooked to al dente
1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
1 large green onion, sliced, greens reserved
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
¼ tsp each salt and black pepper

Sauce:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp white whole wheat flour
1 cup milk
2 tbsp parmesan, grated
¼ tsp each salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice off the top third of your garlic head, place it cut side up on a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in the foil and bake for about 45 minutes or until soft. Set it aside to cool.

Place the mushrooms in a bowl and cover with hot water. Allow to sit for about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and reserve the water for stock. Gently dry the mushrooms and then roughly dice. Reserve about a 1/ 4 cup for the sauce.


Heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet and add the onion and garlic, cook for 1 minute then add the mushrooms, chicken and water. Cook for about 5 more minutes until everything is heated through. Stir in the parmesan, ricotta, salt and pepper. Set aside and allow to cool so that you can handle the filling.

In a sauce pan create a roux by melting the butter over medium heat, and then whisk in the flour to form a paste. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly whisk in the milk. Whisk constantly to smooth out any clumps. Return to the heat, still whisking, and allow the sauce to thicken to your desired consistency. It should coat the back of a spoon when it is ready.

Remove the pan from the heat and squeeze in the roasted garlic cloves (careful not to let any of the skins to fall in), parmesan, salt and pepper and whisk until smooth. Stir in the reserved mushrooms.

Spread 2 tbsp of the sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Divide the filling into six equal parts and fill each manicotti shell by hand or with a spoon. Place each shell in the baking dish, and then pour the remaining sauce over the top.

Bake for about 15 minutes until the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Then serve and garnish with the reserved onion greens, or scallions. Serves 2 to 3 people.



**************

Hungry for mushrooms, now? Well you are in luck. The Hoosier Mushroom Company has offered to give away a pack of organic dried Black Trumpet Mushrooms to one of my readers! Entries (via comment) are due by 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, May 23rd. I’ll announce the winner next Monday along with some more information on Black Trumpets and how I used them.

To enter follow the steps below. For each entry to count be sure to leave a separate comment saying you followed, tweeted, etc. You have the opportunity for 4 entries/comments. You will also need a US address to win.
  1. Leave a comment telling me if you’ve used dried mushrooms before and how you would use the Black Trumpets.
  2. Follow me (@lori1329) and The Hoosier Mushroom Company (@hoosiermushroom) on Twitter and tell me you do or did so.
  3. Tweet the giveaway and @ both of us. Tell me you did so in a comment.
  4. Like (become a fan of) The Hoosier Mushroom Company on Facebook and tell me you do or did so in a comment.


Resources for health benefits of Shiitakes:
American Cancer Society: Shiitake Mushroom 
WHFoods: Shiitake Mushroom 
Chang, R. Functional properties of edible mushrooms. Nutr Rev. 1996 Nov;54(11 Pt 2):S91-3



Disclaimer: I received the mushrooms mentioned in this post free of charge from The Hoosier Mushroom Company. I was not required to review them and received no compensation for doing so.

20 comments:

Ellie said...

Growing up we use to get mushrooms in the forest behind the house. We'd ate all we could and if there was any left my mom dried them. I love mushrooms.
I usually use fresh ones but once I tried dried mushrooms in sauerkraut soup. They tuned out little chewy and I'm not sure why :(
This recipe looks great! I might just give them another chance.

gastroanthropologist said...

I once dumped a guy because he hated mushrooms. He wouldn't even try them... Good to know they have all those health benefits too because I eat them often. I'm not sure if I can enter the contest...I'm not on facebook...

Lori said...

Ellie - Thanks for the story. Sounds like you have a lot of experience with mushrooms. This was my first time cooking with them and they were great. Maybe they didn't cook long enough in the soup? On the pack of Black Trumpets I have it says to cook at least 25 minutes. Hope you'll give them another chance. :)

Gastro - I like that you have your priorities in order. There are foods that could definitely break a relationship for me. :) Thanks for reminding me. I need to check the companies shipping policy.

Emily said...

Oooh, I think I would make some risotto?
We also hunted mushrooms growing up, lots of shiitakes!

Emily (A Nutritionist Eats) said...

Follow you and them!
Also, your manicotti looks and sounds amazing! (forgot to mention that!)

Juliana said...

Nice manicotti, love the idea of the shiitake mushrooms...and I am sure that the garlic sauce is a great combination...love your pictures :-) And you used to hunt for the morel mushrooms? So much fun!

Maria said...

I love anything with mushrooms and I really love shiitake. Fantastic meal!

Daily Spud said...

I'm a big fan of mushrooms in general but actually had no idea that they were such a good-for-you food too - that's what I'd call win-win :)

Velva said...

I am always hungry for mushrooms. I think you did a really great job of getting your readers to focus on the myraid of mushrooms other than the white button variety. Ths was a great post.

btw, a great mushroom package you received.

Sarah said...

Luckily my husband and son love mushrooms and we have tried quite a few from the sunday farmers market here!
Shiitakes are one of my personal favorites, the dish you created looks delicious!

Joanne said...

I have recently just been getting into eating mushrooms more, especially after the dried morels I used not so long ago. Those things were delicious!

I love this manicotti...it looks so decadent, like a gourmet meal I would have in a restaurant. Well done chica!

I think I would probably have the mushrooms in an alfredo-y type sauce...albeit a healthier version of one!

OysterCulture said...

I'm with you in my love of mushrooms and my limited knowledge of hunting them aside from morel - we used to hunt for them as a kid with my mom.

Around here you hear of tragic stories of families from Europe and other places that hunt for mushrooms and make a big batch of soup only to be poisoned - apparently many of the mushrooms we have in the Bay Area are poisonous but look like the edible kind they're accustomed to back home.

Your manicotti recipe looks amazing and I love adding dried mushrooms as they bring such a nice umani flavor to the dish. Can't wait to try.

kat said...

Mushrooms in cream sauce is always so good & now that Matt has decided he actually liked them I can try recipes like this.

Fiona said...

I use dried porcini mushrooms a lot. I love their rich flavor and they're great to use in a risotto with goat cheese, or just to add an earthy flavor to pasta, soups, stews, etc.

Erica said...

I love mushrooms and this dish looks amazing...The garlic cream sauce sound delicious, too!

tasteofbeirut said...

You are enlightening me with this mushroom post; I have also never had morels! Can't wait though. Love that dish you made and I never thought of using whle-wheat flour with bechamel.

TasteHongKong said...

Not here for the give away though, I must say it is a brilliant idea to get shiitake (we call it black mushrooms or winter mushrooms) stuffed in manicotti.

5 Star Foodie said...

The manicotti look terrific! I like the garlic cream sauce on top! Yum! Great giveaway too!

Hoosier Mushroom Company said...

Hoosier Mushroom Company:
Thanks Lori- We love what you did with the mushrooms.

You asked about our shipping policy, we ship all our dried mushrooms to the continuous 48 states.

We just found our first black trumpets in the wild this week so we are especially excited about the giveaway!

We cooked them up in some garlic and butter, added a splash of Dry Gewurztraminer wine and let simmer for a bit. Then added about a cup of cream and two dollops of sour cream. Let the sauce thicken and we were ready to eat! Put it over some pasta.

It made an excellent cream sauce. Although not the healthiest, we were excited to celebrate our first Trumpet find this season!

Good luck and congrats to the giveaway winner!

Thank you again to Lori for her review and delicious recipe!

Megan- HMC

Tangled Noodle said...

As much as I love mushrooms, I know I've tasted only a tiny fraction of what's available among the edible kinds! Just a few weeks ago, our farmers' market was awash in morels but they were so expensive at $45/lb! Hoosier Mushroom Co. sounds like a great resource to try different varieties. As for your manicotti - it looks amazing!

Speaking of amazing, I love your new blog look!!