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Archive for Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Mushroom sauce gives pork a hearty taste

September 4, 2002

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Mushrooms are a finicky fungi.

They need a good cleaning but hate taking a bath. They're naturally high in water, but if they're soaked they become mushy when cooked.

Most sauces are a snap to prepare but often add tremendous fat and calories. That's not the case with this recipe that pairs a shiitake mushroom sauce with pork loin chops.

Just about any variety of mushroom will work in this recipe, but the shiitakes have a deep, bold flavor, yet are delicate when compared to meaty mushrooms like portobellos.

Unlike other mushroom varieties, the stems of shiitakes should not be eaten; they tend to be tough and woody. But don't toss them in the trash. Use them to flavor soups and sauces. Just remove them before serving.

Shiitake mushrooms are sold fresh and dried. Fresh shiitakes should have a dark brown cap that is curled under at the edge; avoid wrinkled or broken caps. Dried shiitakes need to be reconstituted in hot water for about one-half hour. If using the dried, use the soaking liquid in place of the chicken broth in this recipe for a deep mushroom flavor. Strain it first.

The best way to clean mushrooms is to wipe them with a damp paper towel. For mushrooms that require an extensive cleaning, place in a colander and gently spray with water then wipe them dry.

Herbed pork with sauteed wild mushrooms

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Nonstick cooking spray

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

3 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps, washed

1 1/2 teaspoons favorite steak seasoning or a blend of black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

4 boneless center-cut loin pork chops (4 ounces each and about 3/4-inch thick)

1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; add the oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute 3 minutes, or until tender. Remove the mushrooms from the skillet.

Rub the steak seasoning and thyme over the pork chops. Add the pork to the pan and cook 3 minutes on each side, or until done. In a small bowl, whisk together the broth and cornstarch.

Put the mushrooms back in the skillet along with the broth mixture. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened.

Serve this pork over brown rice to soak up the mushroom sauce or with instant polenta and Parmesan cheese or a favorite herbed rice side dish.

Makes 4 servings.

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