My wife is gluten-free, and has been for five or six years now. And people often ask, “Is it a real pain to do that? How do manage to make that work?” The truth is, it’s actually not all the hard anymore. More and more companies and making gluten-free products, and they’re getting cheaper, and more stores are carrying them.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some things that we just can’t really have anymore (and, yes, I try to keep down the number of things I eat that she can’t – things like the cheddar-biscuits at Red Lobster). One of the things my wife always loved, and couldn’t have anymore, was fried mushrooms.
You know, the little brown deep-fried balls of goodness, served with a side of ranch dressing!
Things have been a little tough for us lately, with some financial stresses and some health issues for various friends and family members. So, when she mentioned recently that she was really missing fried mushrooms, I decided that I would poke the old interwebs and see what I could scare up. All hail the Google!
And sure enough, I found plenty of recipes, but not a whole lot of gluten-free ones which looked like they would be worth our time. So, I decided I would experiment. I had a gluten-free flour I was fairly happy with, and I knew I could find some gluten-free break crumbs to use. Now to pick my recipe.
I decided to go with this one as my starting point, knowing that I would need to make a few adjustments along the way. And, I have to say, we were very happy with the results! So, I figured I’d share what I did in case someone else might find it helpful (and as my wife just now pointed out, we foodies are never really short of things to blog about – she’s totally right).
Hardware. Here’s the hardware you’re going to need:
- 3 quart pot
- a good slotted spoon or spider-basket
- a frying thermometer (no, this is not optional – you can get one for about $3, just do it)
- 2 sheet pans with a lip, lined with tin foil
- 2 cooling racks set into aforementioned sheet pans
- a small or medium mixing bowl
- a sturdy whisk
- a small small bowl for the bread crumbs
- measuring spoons and cups
- toothpicks (I prefer round)
Why 2 sheet pans with cooling racks? Well, it’s good to have one you can use for prep, and one you can use after scooping the mushrooms out of the oil. You can certainly get by with just 1 (that’s what I did), but have a second makes things a little easier. Likewise, the tin foil is optional, but trust me, it makes clean up so much easier. I also recommend using a pot that is taller than it is wide. This will help keep the oil temperature a little more constant (that’s also why you want the thermometer), and it will allow any little burnt particles to settle to the bottom and not stick to your mushrooms.
- 16-24 oz of white cap mushrooms (2-3 of the little plastic containers from the store; if you’re going for bulk ones, pick the smaller mushrooms)
- 1 cup gluten-free flour – I used Cup 4 Cup
- 1/2 cup corn startch
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic power
- 1 teaspoon onion salt
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups gluten-free bread crumbs – I tried both Schar and Glutino
- Frying oil (I used vegetable oil), enough to fill the pot 1/2 to 2/3 full
- salt for seasoning
A word on ingredients. I really like the Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour; I’ve always been fairly pleased with the way it works. The King Arthur brand is also good, but I haven’t tried frying with it so I don’t know how it would work here. Regardless, what you’re looking for is something that comes as close to regular wheat flour as you can. So the plain almond flour or rice flour – ones that have not been mixed with other things like xantham gum – aren’t going to work. I added the garlic powder and onion salt instead of regular salt in the batter, but you can do what you want. Other options might be a little cayenne or a dash (just one dash, no more!) of Worcester. About the bread crumbs – I had bought the Glutino ones because I wasn’t sure I was going to have enough of the Schar. They both work, but the Glutino ones are more like corn bread crumbs, so they resulted in a very different kind of fried-mushroom. No bad by any means, but different (more like hush-puppies). Next time I do this, I’m just going with the Schar.
- Wipe the mushrooms clean – DO NOT WASH! If you wash them, they will be wet and the batter won’t stick very well. Wiping them clean with a paper towel is just fine. If you absolutely have to wash them, do it early in the day and let them dry thoroughly before starting to cook.
- Skewer each mushroom through the bottom of its stem with a toothpick, and set them on the rack in one of your sheet pans.
- Combine flour, corn starch, baking power, garlic powder, and onion salt in your small or medium bowl. Mix well with the whisk.
- Add 1 cup of the water and combine with the whisk. You may need to add more water (hence the 2nd cup), but do so a little at a time, until the batter is about the consistency of pancake batter. Set it aside while you do the next couple steps.
- Pour your bread crumbs in your small bowl.
- Begin to heat the oil in the pot over medium to medium-high heat, depending on your stove. You want the oil to reach 350-360 F. Clip the frying thermometer to side of the pot (in the oil, please, not on the outside), and use that to keep an eye on your temperature throughout the cooking process.
- While the oil is heating, holding the toothpick, dip each mushroom in the batter, letting most of the extra drip off. Set each batter-coated mushroom back on the rack in your prep sheet pan so more of the extra batter can drip off. Don’t remove the toothpick, just leave it right where it is. Do this for 6-8 mushrooms.
- Once the extra batter has dripped off the mushroom, coat each one with bread crumbs in the little bowl, and place it back on the prep rack, again leaving the tooth pick in place. And go on to the next batch of 6-8 mushrooms.
- Once the oil reaches that 350-360 F, carefully drop 4-6 mushrooms in the oil by holding the toothpick and sliding the mushroom off using a fork. You can now get rid of the toothpicks!
- As the first batch of mushrooms is cooking, keep dipping, resting, breading, and resting the remaining mushrooms. You’ll notice that you’ve now got a bunch of the dripped-off batter on that prep rack – that’s why having a second one will come in useful in a couple minutes!
- Fry the mushrooms until they are golden brown, using your slotted spoon to gently stir and turn them every little bit. And watch your oil temp and adjust as needed!
- Once the mushrooms are golden brown all over, use your slotted spoon or spider-basket to scoop them out and put them on your second rack – the one without all the extra batter on it! Immediately give them a sprinkle of salt; you want to do this while they still have a little oil on them.
- Repeat steps 9-12 until all the mushrooms are fried up. If your house is anything like mine, you won’t have to worry about the mushrooms getting cold because people will be eating them as soon as they’re cool enough to handle! If you do need to store them for a bit while you cook up the rest, just keep that second rack in a warm oven, with mushrooms all in a single layer.
- Serve hot with your choice of dipping sauce(s) – my wife and I are traditionalists in this regard, we just use ranch dressing.
I know this sounds like a lot of work for some silly fried mushrooms, but when you’re gluten-free and you can’t just go down to the pub and get some, it’s worth putting the effort in every now and then. And I haven’t tried it yet, but I strongly suspect that this same recipe would work wonderfully for gluten-free onion rings as well – just dust each ring with a little corn starch before dipping them in the batter (it’s a moisture control thing).
Hopefully, this will be useful to some of you other gluten-free people out there – enjoy!