Thursday, June 28, 2012

maitake mushrooms

Hen of the woods, or maitake
One of the best things I got at Wegmans was a fresh hen of the woods, or maitake, mushroom. Like chicken of the woods - no relation - the hen of the woods gets its name from the firm texture and meaty taste - it's a much richer-tasting mushroom than a portobello. They're wild, and can grow to be hundreds of pounds. Dried maitakes are one of my favorite mushrooms to make stock from, but I'd never had them fresh.

Hen of the woods, or maitake
Originally I fried some slices of the hen of the woods in a simple batter - buttermilk, egg, self-rising flour - as an accompaniment to roast tarragon chicken:

Fried hen of the woods; tarragon chicken; roast potatoes
But it was so rich and flavorful, with an almost steak-like texture, that it actually overshadowed the chicken - and I'm pretty damn good at roasting a chicken.

So today I focused on the fried mushroom, in a very basic sandwich with casatica di bufala (the Brie-like buffalo cheese) and a little comeback sauce:

Fried maitake mushroom sandwich
So damn good. I would happily make this all the time. This blows away those Sysco fried mushrooms with ranch.

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