My friend Shelley brought me this amazing wild hen of the woods mushroom. It was about the size of a soccer ball, but much more delicious! The "feathers" pull off into tender sections like flower petals. Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms have a rich umami flavor, like shiitake mushrooms with more attitude. In Japan, these mushrooms are called maiitake or "dancing mushrooms." I braised them with kale, onions, and garlic for the most delicious greens I have ever made. As the finishing touch, I wrapped them in buckwheat crepes, but you could enjoy them unwrapped. According to Wikipedia, these mushrooms are high in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fiber.
Wild hen-of-the-woods mushrooms braised with kale and onions
Active time: 30 minutes. Total time: 50 minutes. Yield: 3 cups or 4 servings. Vegan.
- 1/4 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 bunch kale, about 12 ounces, with stems cut into 1/2-inch pieces and leaves cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups hen of the woods mushroom sections, thoroughly cleaned with large pieces cut into two inch sections
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup water, divided
- 1 tablespoon white whole wheat flour
- Heat olive oil over medium low heat in a large skillet. Add onions and kale stems. Cook about five minutes until onions are soft.
- Stir in garlic, then stir in mushrooms and salt. Add 1/4 cup water, cover, and reduce heat to low. Braise for about 10 minutes.
- Acting quickly, remove the skillet lid, put kale leaves on top of mushroom mixture, and replace the lid before too much steam escapes. Cook until mushrooms and kale leaves are tender, about 10 minutes. Cool a bite to test for doneness. Cook longer if the mushrooms feel rubbery or squeaky when chewed.
- Combine remaining 1/4 cup water and flour until smooth by stirring them with a fork or or shaking them in a small jar. Remove lid from skillet, stir in flour mixture, and cook until mushroom juices and flour mixture thicken into a rich gravy.
- Serve hot wrapped in buckwheat crepes, on top of sweet potatoes, or as a side dish. Keeps refrigerated for 5 days.
- If you aren't lucky enough to score these wild hen of the woods mushrooms, look for them at farmers' markets or Asian grocery stores, where they are called maiitake
- You can also use shiitake mushroom caps instead. Save the tough shiitake stems to make broth, then discard the stems.
- I've read that cooked mushrooms freeze well, but haven't tried it myself.
- What could be more wildly affordable than foraged mushrooms? But be careful. If you don't really know your mushrooms, forage with an expert.