Hen of the Woods - THURS
Field Update, 9/30: Hen of the Woods from our local forests all around the DMV are just starting. Our forager Tom has scouted 25 baby hen of the woods (by baby, he means double ping-pong ball in size), which we're excited to offer.
Tom is foraging Grifola frondosa or hen of the woods! Your 1/2 pound of hen of the woods will come in a brown paper bag. These mushrooms are foraged, NOT cultivated!
Hen of the Woods is a beautiful, flavor-packed mushroom that local chefs love to incorporate in their dishes, but they're rarely available in stores; this is your chance to bring some of that restaurant magic into your own kitchen. Hen of the Woods, also known as maitake, goes great on pizza, in a pasta dish, or as a main course sautéed with some shallots and herbs. You can use the whole mushroom; cooking the stalks and ears together creates a lovely balance of textures. Any part of the mushroom you can't use while fresh can be put into a vegetarian or risotto stock for a rich umami flavor.
Keep reading for a How-To Guide from Tom's forager friend, Jeff Long, followed by two recipe ideas. Then add these mushrooms to your order to bring a little bit of DMV's wildlife to your table.
Hen of the Woods basic storage, preparation, and cleaning
Storage: If possible, do NOT clean before storing. Place a double layer of paper towels in the bottom of a high-sided pan (i.e. cake or loaf), place mushroom on towels, cover completely with paper towels & place in refrigerator. Should keep one (1) week bare minimum if you follow this advice.
Cleaning: Trim off any dirt or leaf matter; unlike all other wild mushrooms, you can rinse or submerge this edible mushroom in water without ill effect - just use a salad spinner to dry or lay the mushroom on a couple of paper towels.
Pre-cooking: With a slicing knife, cut the mushroom VERTICALLY into 3/8" slices (not 1/4 & not 1/2 inch) - so that the mushroom will cook through by the time it starts to brown; OR use a paring knife to separate the mushrooms into fronds or "leaves". (Any small, miscellaneous pieces can be treated like larger ones.
- Olive Oil
- Fresh garlic clove(s) [slightly crushed]
- Salt [optional: coarse salt]
- Black Pepper [fresh ground]
- Hen of the Woods Mushroom (½ lb)
- Rub both sides of each slice w/ a clove of the garlic, slightly crushed (generously, if you prefer).
- Season both sides w/ salt & fresh ground black pepper.
- Brush both sides of the mushroom slice(s) w/ extra virgin olive oil; set slice(s) aside for 5-10 minutes; If you like, brush the slice(s) w/ olive oil again.
- Saute' the mushroom slices in a hot teflon pan OR grill the slices over a medium hot fire for approximately 2-3 minutes each side [the mushroom slice(s) should be lightly brown] & remove.
OPTION #1: Season the hot mushroom w/ a little kosher or coarse salt before serving.
OPTION #2: Brush a little Balsamic vinegar on one side immediately after taking off the heat.
The texture of the cooked mushroom should be "al dente" or "to the tooth" [a pleasant, slightly crunchy texture].
To Serve: Serve as a mushroom "steak" for a first course or as a vegetable accompaniment w/ roast, grilled or baked meats, poultry, & fish; Also, this mushroom is delicious when served over hot pasta.
- 100g Hen of the Woods
- 64g Hen of the Woods (or any mushroom you have on hand)
- 64 g Cremini Mushrooms (or any mushroom you have on hand)
- 40g Apples, peeled and sliced
- 36g Shallot, sliced
- 73g Sherry or Madeira Wine
- 15g Balsamic Vinegar
- 15g Maple Syrup
- 11g Soy Sauce
- 64g Butter
- Sliced Sourdough (or other) Bread
- Shaved Parmesan
- Olive Oil
- Sherry Vinegar
- Garlic Cloves
- Roast the 100g Hen of the Woods with olive oil, sherry, vinegar, thyme, garlic cloves at 400 F for 10-15 min
- Slowly sweat rest of mushrooms, onions and apples. Add wine and reduce by half. Add balsamic and maple syrup. Mix until smooth using blender. Reduce speed to low and slowly add butter until it forms a mousse. Cool and reserve.
- Toast the sourdough slices, spread the mushroom mousse, top with roasted Hen of the Woods, and shaved parmesan. Enjoy!
Tom of Fungi Villa has been foraging for decades in the Washington DC area! He has many sites in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and in states up + down the East Coast! He sustainably forages to ensure that a patch can keep producing for many many years.