“Wild-mushroom foragers live in a constant state of hope,” said the man with the Rip Van Winkle beard and the Jed Clampett hat who was proudly displaying a hen-of-the-woods specimen the size of a Nerf basketball at the Greenmarket Fifth Floor Farm Kitchen stand the other day. And with wild hen-of-the-woods (a.k.a. maitakes) going for as much as $29 a pound, who can blame them? Marco Canora—the chef largely responsible for elevating the fungus to “It” ’shroom status, first at Craft and now at Hearth—relies on the less expensive cultivated variety (available at Greenmarket year-round or through Marché aux Delices at auxdelices.com). Serve his pan-roasted mushrooms as a side, but buyer beware: The earthy, herby, faintly crisp-on-the-outside-juicy-within results might very well upstage the main event.
Marco Canora’s Pan-Roasted Hen-Of-The-Woods Mushrooms
1 pound hen-of-the-woods mushrooms
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh-cracked black pepper
(1) Turn mushroom over to expose the stem. With paring knife, remove the core of the stem.
(2) Using your hands, gently break mushroom into 8 pieces. In a 12-inch sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium flame. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper, and
(3) place them in the heated oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pan, and cook for 3 minutes. When the mushrooms have a golden-brown surface, flip them with a spatula and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes. Add butter and herbs, and baste mushrooms for 1 minute. Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil, and serve.