I kind of have a thing for fungi. Lucky for us, as mushrooms are readily available in our neighborhood markets. One of the things that I adore about mushrooms is how versatile an ingredient they are. They can be used in recipes from breakfast to dessert. I often toss in meaty mushrooms to replace a portion of meat in recipes as well; they add great flavor and depth to a dish. This recipe for minced chicken mushroom lettuce cups is no exception either. It is a keeper!
I was thrilled to receive an email from Casey at Kitchen PLAY to join along in a Progressive Dinner Party with the Mushroom Council. I have done some recipe development with Kitchen PLAY before, and any opportunity involving mushrooms is a bonus. The virtual dinner parties are always a great way to find new and exciting recipes to have on hand when inspiration is lacking. The only rule was that I needed to create a recipe where I could Swap It or Top It; the premise being that mushrooms can be worked into any recipe.
As I mentioned before, mushrooms are a really versatile ingredient to have on hand. I always have a few tucked away for last minute toppings for grilled meats, or vegetarian sauces for pasta, not to mention breakfast scrambles. Mushrooms are great for our waistlines as they are low in calories, fat and cholesterol-free while providing nutrients our bodies need such as potassium, riboflavin and vitamin D. One thing you want to remember when working with mushrooms is that they are like a sponge, and water is not their friend. When cleaning your mushrooms be sure to use a soft brush or damp paper towel, to gently remove all traces of dirt. Trust me there isn’t anything worse than a waterlogged mushroom ruining your recipe.
This dish was inspired by two flavor palates: Asian and Mexican. I like to think of it as fusion. During the hot summer months, I prefer something light, refreshing and still easy on our waistlines. I opted to use the white button mushroom as it is the most readily available throughout the US and I want everyone to be able to enjoy this recipe. The white button mushroom has a mild taste, which works well with the other ingredients in this recipe, and their flavor intensifies when cooked. I made this recipe both ways using only mushrooms as my “meat” and using ground chicken thigh along with the mushrooms. Let me just say both versions are outstanding. The flavors mingle like crazy with highlights from fresh ingredients such as lime zest, ginger, onions, garlic and Thai chilies. The garnish is a cool (or silky) cilantro avocado cream that wraps all of the flavors together in this light and summery dinner recipe.
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Minced Chicken Mushrooms with Lettuce Cups
serves 4 – 6
* if you want a vegetarian version, leave out the ground chicken and triple the number of mushrooms
- 11 medium white button mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed, cut in half
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons fresh mint, finely diced
- 1/2 Thai chili, finely minced (*can use serrano)
- 1 small lime washed well
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 cup minced orange or red pepper
- 8 ounces water chestnuts, minced
- 1 cup cilantro, washed and dried
- 1 avocado
- 1 teaspoon sour cream
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- kosher salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- lettuce leaves
- chili paste, use your favorite kind
- 2 green onions, finely minced
- In a food processor add the mushrooms and chop finely. Set aside
- Throw the onion and garlic into the food processor and finely chop.
- Heat the canola oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion mixture. Stir and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
- Add the chicken to the onion mixture. Cook over medium heat, breaking up the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Cook for 8 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
- Using a Microplane, grate some fresh ginger to make 2 teaspoons.
- Add the ginger, Thai chili, lime and soy sauce to the chicken mixture. Stir, and cook for 2 minutes.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper. If you want more heat to add more of the Thai pepper.
- Add the pepper and water chestnuts. Stir, and cook for another 3 minutes, just until the peppers slightly wilt. (I like the peppers and water chestnuts to have some crunch.)
- Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a clean food processor add the cilantro and chop finely. Add the avocados, sour cream and lime juice. Process until smooth and creamy. Season with kosher salt.
- To serve, place a lettuce leaf on a plate, top with some of the chicken mushroom mixture, a little cilantro cream, and some chili paste.