Bread & Brown Buttered Hen of the Woods

October 29, 2011 § 3 Comments

It’s short & simple: the best ingredients yield the most impressive products. Now, enter foraged mushrooms, the epitome of good ingredients, into the equation & you’re bound to have a product that even the meek-mushroom-deniers will desire.

Hen of the Woods, Grifola frondosa, or Maitaki is a common mushroom in the Northeast.

The art (or sport) of foraging mushrooms has been seriously dismissed in some parts of this country, but it’s certainly exciting that there is a rising interest in the sport (we can call it a sport right?). Because mushrooms occur in the same, much sought after “secret spots” each year, mushroom knowledge is usually passed down between generations. Once someone in the family finds a spot, it’s to that spot they’ll return annually when the season for the mushrooms arrives.

This recipe is easy & can be duplicated with anything from fish to eggplant. The most important thing to keep in mind is that what you make your bread crumbs out of does mater. Like I said earlier, what you put in is what you get out. An old loaf of sourdough, buttery crackers, or a stale grainy baguette all work, but the secret is to mix whatever you use with a cup of walnuts (a trick that my mom taught me).

Looks like chicken, but it's not, I promise.

Bread & Brown Buttered Hen of the Woods

2 packages of your favorite whole wheat crackers*, 1/2 cup walnuts,  10, 2-3oz hen of the woods “filets”, 1 egg,  1/2 cup organic whole milk,  2 Tbsp butter** &  salt & pepper to taste

*You can use anything, Late July, Barbara’s Wheaties, Back to Nature, or even Ritz crackers. If you do use bread, be sure the loaf is at least 2 days old & has been baked so that it hardens (like toast).

**olive oil, grape seed oil, coconut oil, or ghee works well here too, they just should not be browned.

Beating lightly, combine egg & milk in a large bowl until homogenous. Add the “filets” & let them soak for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, pulse crackers & walnuts in a food processor until they become granulated, but not dusty. Dump half of the bread crumbs in a plastic bag & the other half on to a large plate.  In a skillet brown the butter over medium-high heat. Browning the butter (for more about brown butter check out the last post) will take about 3-4 minutes over high heat.

One by one coat the soaked filets in bread crumbs & add them to the pan (if needed, add more bread crumbs to the plate as you go). Adjust the heat to medium & let the breaded filets cook for 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Flip & repeat until both sides are golden & slightly crunchy. You may need to add more butter or oil if you notice the pan looks “dry”.

Serve over a bed of greens or as a grilled pizza topping. This recipe can also be used to bread any white fish or for eggplant. If you are using it to bread fish, soak the fish filets & prepare the bread crumbs the same way, but bake the fish (in a baking dish coated with olive oil) at 350 degrees F, for 35 minutes, or until flaky.

Have you ever foraged wild mushrooms before? If so, please share your experience & your suggestions for cooking/baking/pickling them!

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§ 3 Responses to Bread & Brown Buttered Hen of the Woods

  • Jody and Ken says:

    Very nice. I’ve sometimes used hazelnuts that way, but never walnuts, and with a hen-of-the-woods it sounds delicious. Good photos. I’ll be back. Ken

  • paul says:

    Wow, I foraged with my grandmother way back when. And it’s one of those things that I wished I remembered more of because at the time I wasn’t yet as fascinated with foraging as I am now. It was pretty amazing though because she totally knew her mushrooms and had learned by word of mouth down through the generations. Old school.

  • paul says:

    Damn the meek-mushroom-deniers!

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