First couple weeks of the new year of course means that it’s time to pull out those crystal balls and have a gaze at anticipated trends for the year. I tend to put about as much credence into food trend prognostication as I do my daily horoscope. That is to say: read, ponder, consider how much overlap with what I’ve noticed going on and wait to observe what actually happens. Both examples enjoyable and interesting in their own way.
From cursory looks at some food trends lists for 2019 thus far, I see mushrooms pop up in a few places. Which brought to mind a recipe I included in Salty Snacks and hadn’t prepared in a while. It involves, quite simply, thin-slicing portabella mushrooms and lightly seasoning with salt and pepper, then baking them for a bit over an hour.
Essentially this is just drying the mushroom slices in the oven, I don’t even use oil or butter. If you have a dehydrator, you can work that magic you already have to make this snack.
For the rest of us, it a 250-degree oven does a fabulous job, with two racks set toward the center of the oven. Remove the woody stems from two large, firm portabellas and wipe the caps with a damp paper towel. Cutting the slices pretty thin and relatively even is the most valuable element. Neither paper-thin nor chunky, somewhere around 1/8 inch thickness is what I found to work well. The caps can be a bit awkward to slice with a mandoline, a good sharp chef’s knife is my choice for this task. I haven’t tried this recipe with standard button mushrooms; I trust the technique would work well, though given how much the slices shrink, starting with smaller mushrooms could leave you with mini chips in the end.
Line a couple baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper and arrange the slices on them; they can be snug but avoid having the slices touch. Very little attention is needed while they bake, aside from swapping the pans after 30 minutes, and turning the slices over 15 minutes later. It should then take 20 to 30 minutes longer for the slices to be well dried and crisp. Some may be ready sooner than others, transfer them to a wire rack to cool as they are ready. Quite dry, firm and no longer soft or pliable is what to look for.
Not so difficult, right? Sure, these are no substitute for the pure, unmatched pleasure of a potato chip. But these chips have a charm all their own, with a light crispness and a savory, earthy flavor I find interestingly reminiscent of cocoa. Have a go, for some tasty variety in your snacking repertoire.