A dear friend of mine in North Carolina took me on my first mushroom foraging expedition last weekend. Our haul included 25lbs of maitake or “hen of the woods” and 4lbs of chicken of the woods. As a home cook, this basically amounts to “unlimited” mushrooms. Amazing.
I won’t try to give advice on mushroom hunting, because other folks are much more expert than I. I can say with confidence, that the maitakes have been delicious – whether sauteed with garlic, folded into an omelette, or on a grilled cheese sandwich like the recipe below.
First we had to lovingly separate the mushroom clusters, cleaning out twigs and leaves and dirt.
I then sauteed onions and garlic with olive oil in a large cast iron pan. Once the onions were soft, I pushed them to the side and added the maitakes, making sure not to crowd the pan. These mushrooms were very moist and let off a lot of moisture. I wanted them to get golden and crispy, so I had to resist stirring. After about 5 minutes of sizzling on high heat, I turned the mushrooms and added a sprinkling of salt. Once all the mushrooms were golden in spots, I added 1/4 cup of white wine and let that cook away.
For the sandwiches, I used fresh sourdough, piling mushrooms high and topping with a Lebanese sheep’s milk cheese and a touch of parm. 3 minutes under the broiler, and we had the best mushroom sandwich I’ve ever had.