Gorgeous, Giant Hen-Of-The-Woods Mushrooms from Violet Hill Farm
When I was in college, my dad and I went for a walk in the woods and found a hen of the woods mushroom nestled at the base of an oak tree. It was about the size of a grapefruit. Dad said, “Oh – my favorite! Let’s leave it for another week and come back and get it when it’s bigger.”
We went back the next week, and it had grown to the size of an actual hen! Dad used his trusty Swiss Army knife to cut it off of the tree. When we got home, he went straight to the kitchen to warm up his cast iron skillet and dropped in a large pad of butter.
He broke off a quarter of the mushroom and cut the piece into thinner slices. Many of the more delicate lobes fell off, and he scooped them and the slices into the skillet. He sauteed the mushrooms till they were brown and crispy. He placed them onto our plates.
Then he added a bit more butter to the skillet and scrambled up a bunch of eggs, which he scooped onto the plates next to the mushroom. We ate our delicious meal with buttered toast. That was the moment when hen-of-the-woods, also known as maitakes, became my favorite mushroom.
I spotted these enormous maitakes this weekend from Violet Hill Farm. I picked up a small bag of mushroom and got some fresh eggs from Knoll Krest Farm across the way. James made the same perfect lunch for us (he’s really great with an egg). I am forever grateful that Dad taught me so much about so many cool things, including this particular delicate mushroom.
~Karen Seiger, Markets of New York City