How to Turn Mushrooms Into 'Bacon'

Justin Chapple whips up his vegetarian recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts and onions with mushroom lardons on this week’s episode of Mad Genius: Home Edition.

Brussels sprouts and bacon are a classic combination. But in this week's episode of Mad Genius: Home Edition, our culinary director-at-large Justin Chapple makes the case for switching things up—with mushrooms. He takes meaty king oyster mushrooms and turns them into pseudo lardons (aka "a cube or a strip of fatty bacon," Justin explains) with a quick crisp in the skillet and some key seasonings. Mixed with the Brussels sprouts, shallots, and red pearl onions, the result is a meat-free dish that will appeal to meat lovers and vegetarians alike. Read on for his method and follow along with the video above.

Make Sure Your Brussels Sprouts Are Evenly Sized

Brussels sprouts vary in size—but for this recipe, you want them all to be uniform. Justin recommends leaving the smaller ones whole, slicing the medium-sized ones in half, and cutting the biggest sprouts into quarters, adding them all to a large rimmed baking sheet.

Leave the Skin on the Shallots—But Not the Pearl Onions

Next, you'll need whole fresh red pearl onions (buy them pre-peeled, if you can) and shallots, left in their skins and cut in half. (Don't forget to remove the shallot skins after you roast everything.) Grab a few fresh thyme sprigs, too—six to eight—and add them to the baking sheet as well.

Bake and Prep the Mushrooms

Once everything's on the sheet pan, toss it all together with extra-virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper so the mixture is evenly coated, and bake the vegetables in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for roughly 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, take the king oyster mushrooms, trim off the "gnarly little bit" at the ends, and cut them into half-inch cubes. In addition to this dish, Justin notes the mushroom lardons can also be used in salads, on a loaded baked potato—"really you could use these anywhere you would put little delicious bits of bacon." If you can't find king oyster mushrooms, he says that you can use shiitake instead.

Create the Lardons

Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to a skillet and heat it over medium-high. Then, pour in the mushroom pieces and cook them for roughly six to eight minutes until they're golden-brown and crisp around the edges. Then, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for another six to eight minutes.

Once the mushrooms are done cooking, turn off the heat and add in soy sauce, smoked paprika, and a little bit of salt to create that smoky, salty bacon-like flavor. Place the lardons on a plate or baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb excess grease.

Serve. Those. Lardons.

With the lardons done and the veggies roasted, all you need to do is combine them together and mix them up.

"They're crispy, they're chewy, they're meaty," Justin says about the lardons. "I challenge you to make this dish for your friends and family and see if they can tell these meaty lardons started as mushrooms."

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