Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Mighty Maitake Mushroom

Living in an urban area I consider myself extremely lucky to still have the benefit of shopping for locally grown produce. In the past few years, there has been a steady increase in the number of local farmers markets in the surrounding area. I 'm able to pop into a small market on any given weekday and on Saturday I have my choice of 2 very large farmers markets. Now is the time to stock up and can, dry or freeze the summer bounty. It was at one of these Saturday markets that I found my food of the week. I am drying some for winter in the dehydrator now.

The Mighty Maitake Mushroom.

photo © Bebe Naidoo (all rights reserved)
Grifola frondosa 
  Maitake, Hen of the Woods

This amazing mushroom grows in the northeast region of the US and in Japan. It is  said to have medicinal as well as culinary uses. These fungi which grow at the bases of dead or dying oak or maple trees can grow to gigantic sizes (over 50 pounds) earning them the name "the king of mushrooms". If you are adventurous and know what you are doing, you can forage for these around your local wooded area. I am not that adventurous and prefer to safely purchase them from my local Kennett Square mushroom growers. 

Maitake mushrooms can be used to enhance any dish calling for mushrooms. They add an intensely lovely and rich meaty mushroom flavor. They contain anti-oxidants and vitamin B1, B2  and are a significant source of vitamin D.What a super food. They taste great and they are so good for you! Once you try them, you will know exactly what I mean. Here is an easy recipe idea.

DISCLAIMER: I don't often measure using traditional measurements, I use my eyes and I taste as I go if possible. I have been making gravy this way since I was about  10 and it has always worked. Just use the things that you like. 

What you will need (more or less)

Mushroom Gravy
Olive oil, 
finely chopped scallions, shallots, or onions or not if you don't have them or like them
Handful of  Maitake or other mushrooms chopped coarsely chopped,
about 1 heaping tablespoon of flour, (I  actually just use a heaping forkful)
a coffee mug 1/2  filled with water,
water  or white wine,
butter (optional)
herbs (optional) rosemary works well
salt and pepper

Consider tossing some finely  chopped shallots, or scallions  into the pan after removing your cooked meat . The meat needs a few minutes to rest anyway....Add a little olive oil if needed. Cook until tender, about 2 minutes. 
Add the coarsely chopped mushrooms to the pan and cook for another 2-3 minutes , or until done. 
Add the flour to the water in the mug and stir vigorously with a fork  squishing out any lumps until smooth. Add this paste mixture to the pan  a little at a time.....stirring with a wooden spoon the  to cook the flour a bit and get all of that yummy goodness from the bottom. Add more water or wine  to get it to the consistency that you like. (if it gets too thick for you, or if too thin, cook longer)

Just play with it and taste it. You will know if it is good or not, add salt and pepper to taste. If you think you screwed it up and it doesn't taste right, just add a tablespoon of butter.  Butter makes everything better! YUMMY


  1. Now that is what i am talking about--I have passed that mushroom on many a trip to the store, i won't make that mistake again. Great post!

  2. We both have something in common, and that is cooking without measurements. I use my tastebuds as my yardstick. I just love the versatility of mushrooms and how these can absorb any flavor and give the dish an extra serving of juiciness!


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