Saturday, June 27, 2009
Hen of the Woods and Tomato Sandwiches
When I asked a fellow blogger (Dianne at A Stove With a House Around It ) who mentioned that her Italian American grandfather used to forage for hen of the wood, what she suggested I do with the next batch of it I bought, here's what she had to say:
"I just consulted Dad, who is my hen of the woods expert, to remind me of how he cooks them. After cleaning them, he blanches them in boiling water for about five minutes, then drains and cools them. When they're cool enough to handle, squeeze out any excess water.
You can then proceed with cooking them, or you can freeze them in plastic baggies in single-serving sizes to use later. Regardless of how he's going to eat them, Dad always begins by sauteing the cleaned, blanched and drained mushrooms in olive oil with a little garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper until the mushrooms are tender and a little crispy on the edges.
His favorite way to eat them is to add some fresh tomato to the sauteed mushrooms, near the end of the cooking time. Cook the tomatoes gently, combining them with the mushrooms. He eats the mushroom-tomato mixture as a sandwich, on some fresh Italian bread with a little mayo.
He also adds the sauteed mushrooms to tomato sauce to eat with pasta, but says that mushroom sandwiches are his favorite. He reiterates: the key is to blanch them in advance of however you're going to cook/prepare them. Otherwise they won't be fully cooked and the texture/flavor will be off."
I served them for dinner tonight with hen of the woods from the farmer's market, tomatoes from the garden, home made mayo, potato cakes cooked with oregano and parmesan melted on top, and cucumbers from the garden in a dill vinaigrette.
Dianne, tell your Dad I think I love him. I don't know if I'll ever bother eating hen of the woods another way.