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Kitchen Essentials: Michelle Tam’s Paleo Secret Weapon

There are some kitchen essentials that you always want around. When it comes to flavor, salt and pepper make the cut. But how about mushrooms?

Kitchen Essentials: Michelle Tam's Paleo Secret Weapon - Real Plans

There are some kitchen essentials that you always want around. When it comes to seasoning, salt and pepper make the cut. But how about mushrooms?

Available at a moment’s notice to toss into scrambled eggs or throw into last-minute meatballs, mushrooms can give food an extra bit of that savory flavor – otherwise known as umami. According to Michelle Tam, blogger and author and the NYT bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo,

Magic Mushroom Powder’s been my secret weapon—one I always keep stocked in my kitchen.

In the world of fungi, porcini mushrooms are well loved for their versatility and nutty taste. When dried porcini slices are ground into a fine powder, mixed with kosher salt, red pepper flakes, and thyme – the blend becomes something truly sensational.

When you use it, you’ll find magic mushroom powder brings out the deep, meaty undertones of a meal and imparts the kind of flavor that makes your mouth water. Seriously, it’s that good.

Click here for Michelle Tam’s magic mushroom powder recipe.

Move over S + P, we got this

If you were so inclined, Michelle’s magic mushroom power could almost replace salt and pepper in your kitchen. While it may not work in sweet applications, it can bump up the flavors of your meal while enhancing its overall meatiness.

This is thanks to a compound called glutamate, which gives umami-rich foods that savory, meaty flavor.

Besides mushrooms, you can find glutamate and umami elsewhere in your kitchen: Fish sauce, soy sauce, anchovies, tomato paste, and hard cheese. But only some of these umami-filled foods are paleo. While others – like fish sauce, anchovies, and tomato paste – may not work for every dish.

This is where mushrooms come in. They’re meaty and robust without needing to take your food in any one direction. This means that practically every savory meal will taste fabulous with a sprinkle of magic mushroom powder.

What’s more, umami does something that salt and pepper cannot do: It stimulates the appetite while generating more satiety after a meal.

Wondering how to use your magical mushroom powder? Start with soups, sauces, and roasted veggies that need a meaty edge. Rub it all over pork, beef, and chicken. Take a pinch and toss it into your scrambled eggs. And it goes on.

How to acquire magical mushroom powder

Looking for the magic mushroom powder recipe? Click here to grab it.

If you’d rather not make your own mushroom powder and are lucky enough to live in Northern California or in the Northeast, you may be able to pick up a jar at your local Whole Foods.

If you’re an overachiever, dry your own

Michelle’s magic mushroom powder calls for dried porcini mushrooms. The thing about store-bought dried mushrooms is that you can’t be certain when they were dried or how old they are.

And as with many things, age translates into flavor. Or, sometimes, a lack of.

If you want to make sure your mushroom powder is packed with as much umami as possible, you may want to dry your own mushrooms. And there’s no rule that says they must be porcini. Although, it’s important to note that porcini is the darling of mushrooms in many cuisines because of its versatility and exquisite flavor.

Depending on which fresh fungus you favor most, brush off dirt and slice them into quarter-inch pieces. Arrange mushroom slices on cooling rack in your oven, set to 170F. Use the convection option – if you have it – and prop the door slightly open to vent steam.

After two or three hours, your mushrooms will be dry, leathery, and ready for storage in an airtight jar for up to one year.

Are you in love with magic mushroom powder too? Share your list your kitchen essentials with #realplans.

Emily Bartlett

About Emily Bartlett

Emily Bartlett is the co-founder and CEO of RealPlans.com. She's also a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of Chinese medicine, a published author, a wife, and a mom of two. Emily hopes to make meal planning easier and inspire families to share more meals around the table.

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