Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Caramelised Hen of the Woods

 Just a quick one this time, I hadn’t intended on putting this up, but it tasted so good I simply had to share it. Despite the recent rain, the terrestrial fungi still haven’t appeared en masse down here in southern England (I’m beginning to wonder if they ever will?!). Hen of the Woods (Grifola frondosa), however, has been kind to me over the last few weeks; I must have found five or six huge specimens.

The firm flesh is perfect slow cooked in pies and casseroles, but is equally at home fried in a creamy sauce and served with pasta - a very versatile beast! But perhaps the best way to cook it is the simplest, with only three ingredients, a saucepan and a spoon necessary.

Hen of the Woods is a parasitic fungus that causes white rot. It's found mainly at the bases of old Oak trees, though this specimen was found on an old Sweet Chestnut about half a metre from the ground.

A perfect Hen growing on an old Sweet Chestnut tree


- Hen of the Woods
- Butter
- Salt

Cooking the Hen of the Woods couldn’t be simpler; this is kind of a non-recipe. Simply slice the Hen through its width in chunks around an inch deep. You want to use the freshest mushroom you can find for this - when they’re really young the flesh smells like beef. Fry the sliced Hen with butter on the lowest heat possible, basting with a spoon every 30 seconds or so. Flip and repeat every 5 mins. If the pan dries out, add more butter and continue to baste, seasoning with salt as you go. Time is the key with this, don't be tempted to try the mushroom too soon, keep basting and turning until the flesh turns a golden orange colour. When it's ready, slice in to chunks and get your friends and family to tuck in - this is perfect finger food and best enjoyed on its own!

I ended up halving the thickness of this slice - it's the caramelised and crunchy outer
skin that's the tastiest, so thinner slices are preferable!

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