Mushroom + Elk = Meatball
Have you heard of The Blend? Yeah, me neither until my sister in law told me about it. (this is a different sister in law than the cook extraordinaire that I did a blog with previously BTW I don’t have any sisters, so if it seems like I never talk about my sisters, it’s cause I don’t have any). My sister in law is a wholesaler for a local mushroom farm (Mountain View Mushroom). And from time to time she invites me to help saute up the shrooms at a local food show and I have learned some pretty interesting things about mushrooms, so I am gonna share them now. Don’t worry the Mushroom Elk Meatball recipe is at the end. (if you don’t like mushrooms you can check out my other elk meat recipe Sustainable Cooking Chili)
Mushrooms grow in the dark
Now you probably already knew this, but honestly. They grow in the dark, dark, dark. The farm isn’t outdoor at all. It’s a large cement building. Check out the website. That picture of the building isn’t just a processing plant, it’s THE FARM!!
Mushrooms are very fragile
The facility doesn’t allow public tours because the mushrooms need a very moist environment (so that has to be created here in desert UT) and the common bacteria on people can wipe out whole crops. It’a fungus and since those grow well in a moist dark and warm environment it turns out that killer bacteria grow well there too.
They don’t grow in manure
For some reason I always believed that the dirt on my mushrooms was manure or compost. It actually isn’t. Mushrooms are spawned in a compost. That is taken out of the compost as spawn and then layered with peat moss. The mushrooms then grow atop the peat moss. So those dirty bits are peat moss not compost.
Mushrooms have a unique nutrient
Mushrooms have Vitamin D. They are the only produce source to naturally have vitamin D. And the only source of food that has it without being fortified. Your milk and cereal have it but that is added after the fact. Granted we can all get vitamin D from the sunshine, but injesting it helps process other foods like calcium. Mushrooms also have a bunch of B vitamins, but that’s in lots of other produce.
Coolest thing of all: The Blend
Mushrooms can be blended into ground meats to add moisture and lower fat content. I cook with ground elk a lot. For those that don’t have a hunter husband, ground elk is so lean that many sportsman supplement the ground elk with a beef fat at the butcher. We don’t do that. I didn’t like the idea of giving up my health benefit of wild game. Unfortunately, elk is so lean it doesn’t hold its shape for burger patties very well. It’s necessary to add some bread crumbs and egg. And since it’s game I like to make sure it’s cooked all the way through. That often leads to a rather dry burger. Enter the mushroom.
If I do a blend of chopped mushrooms and ground elk, the meat can stay moist and it doesn’t cause problems with the fat content. And since I was going to have to add bread crumbs and egg to get the meat to hold it’s shape I am really doing little to change things. And my family didn’t feel like the mushrooms changed the flavor much.
So here is my mushroom elk meatballs
Mushroom Elk Meatballs
A great way to add moisture, flavor and nutrients and cutting the fat in a burger
- 1 lb white button or domestic mushrooms, chopped finely
- 2 lbs ground elk meat
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp parsely
- ½ tsp oregano
- ½ tsp thyme
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- ¾ cup bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
Dump everything in a mixer or bowl and incorporate it all together.
Make 1 ½ inch balls of all the meat mixture
Place on a greased baking sheet (you’ll need 2)
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Serve with your favorite condiment or sauce.