When I saw a contest that required using dried candycap mushrooms, of course I asked to get into the contest. I love mushrooms. And I'd never had candycaps. As a matter of fact, I'd never heard of candycap mushrooms before the contest was announced.
The description said they were sweet, they smelled like maple, and some people used them for sweet dishes as well as savory.
I expected the maple scent to be subtle, but when I opened the package it was was pretty strong. I left the package sitting on the counter while I contemplated my options.
Every time I walked past it, I got a strong whiff of maple. It was pretty amazing, considering the mushrooms were in a sealed plastic bag.
Maple and mushrooms ... what would they pair with? How about this?
Candycap Crusted Rack of Pork
with squash and apple barley
1 rack of pork - 4 ribs - 3-4 pounds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup* candycap mushrooms, buzzed in a spice grinder to a powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
For the barley:
3/4 cup barley
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup cooked winter squash, mashed
1/4 of a large onion, diced
1 apple, peeled and diced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
To make the pork:
Roast the pork roast at 325 until it reads 155 degrees in the center - about 20 minutes per pound.
Let the roast rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing. You can serve the roast sliced in thin slices or as several thicker chops.
To make the barley:
Place all ingredients in your rice cooker. Stir to combine. Cook on brown rice setting. Stir again when the barley is done cooking. If you prefer, you can cook the barley on the stovetop, but if you have a rice cooker, it makes it a bit easier.
Serve the barley alongside the pork.
*I didn't measure the mushrooms before I powdered them, but 1/4 cup is a good estimate.
Disclaimer: Marx Foods provided a sample of candycap mushrooms for the bloggers in this contest.