Smokey Maple Shiitake Bacon

Prep time: 15 minutes/Cook time: 40 minutes

Marinating time: 1-2 days

Shiitakes are an excellent blank slate for flavors and just the right structure to crisp and crumble when baked, provided you add a measured amount of fat and salt.

There are quite a few recipes out there for this excellent plant-based alternative. Most of the others have a little less wait time and use fresh shiitakes. My recipe adds a considerable amount of marinating time and uses dried shiitakes. I use dry for three reasons, they tend to pick up and hold the flavors better, they’re pre-sliced nice and thin, and they’re sooooo much cheaper!!! Head to your local Asian Market and you can pick up an 8oz pack of dried, sliced shiitakes for a couple bucks.

2 oz of dried sliced shiitake mushrooms – pick through for the larger slices

1/4 cup Brown Sugar

1/4 cup Maple Syrup

1/4 cup Grape Seed oil

2 Tbs Kosher Salt

1 Tbs Braggs Aminos or Tamari Soy Sauce

1 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke

Rinse your dried shiitakes a couple times with cold water. In a bowl is best. During your second rinse, fill the bowl with water and lift the mushrooms out with your hands (this allows any nasty stuff to sink to the bottom) and place in a clean bowl. Cover with approximately 3 cups of luke-warm (not boiling) water and rehydrate for 45 minutes.

When rehydrated, again lift the shiitakes out of the water and transfer to a nest of paper towels. Using a cheesecloth-lined strainer slowly pour the mushroom liquid into a mason jar or other container for storing. You’re not going to use this liquid in the recipe, but now you have about 2 cups of a light mushroom stock that you can use to cook rice, etc.

Gently squeeze most of the water out of the mushrooms in your nest of paper towels and lay out each shiitake flat in an 8 x 11 glass baking dish. Set aside.

For the marinade, wisk all ingredients in a small bowl and pour evenly over the top of the mushrooms.

Using plastic wrap, carefully cover and gently press the plastic wrap directly on to the mushrooms and marinade and create a loose seal around the perimeter.

IMG_3175

Put in the fridge and let it hang out for a day or two.

When you’re ready for bacon, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle lightly and evenly with kosher salt. Remove the plastic wrap covering and carefully lay each mushroom flat on the salt-lined parchment.

Bake on the middle rack for a total of 30 minutes, you’re going to turn the mushrooms several times and rotate the baking sheet in the oven to ensure even browning, so stay alert!!

Keep a close eye, ovens vary. You may want to crack the oven door a couple times to release the moisture, to stare in wonder, and to allow your sinuses to be filled with plant-based love.

Depending on how crisp you want you bacon, you may want to turn the oven off after the 30 minutes are up and let the bacon hang out in the warm oven for another 10 minutes.

Chop or crumble it, throw it in a tofu scramble, or stack up a vBLT!!!

Enjoy!

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