After reading the name of this dish you’d be forgiven if you were expecting a crispy skinned roast bird. Hen of the Woods (a.k.a. Maitake) are a variety of mushroom with a robust earthy aroma and caps that fan out like a feathered plume. These thin caps make them perfect for roasting, which concentrates their bold flavor and renders the tips golden brown and crisp.
Wild looks and delicious taste aside, these mushrooms also contain a relatively rare vitamin that our bodies need to function properly. Aside from a few fatty fish, most foods we eat don’t contain much vitamin D. That’s why the human body is capable of producing its own vitamin D. But there’s a catch… In order for this to happen, our skin needs to be exposed to UV-B radiation (sunlight). This means being outside, in shorts and a tanktop without sunscreen. Not only is this impractical in winter, it’s counterintuitive given all the advice we get about protecting ourselves from the the sun.
That’s probably why over three quarters of Americans are deficient in this essential vitamin. So what does all this have to do with roasted mushrooms? Well, hen of the woods happens to be one of the few foods that contains a significant amount of Vitamin D. 100 grams of these little guys holds about 1,123 International Units (280% of the daily recommended value) of Vitamin D!
So as we head into fall, keep these tasty mushrooms in mind. While it requires some oven time, this dish comes together in mere seconds, making it a perfect side for dinner parties.
Roasted Hen of the Woods
- 300 grams maitake mushrooms
- 5 sprigs thyme, minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- flaked sea salt (such as Maldon)
- black pepper
- Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 C). If you have a convection oven, use the convection mode.
- Trim any tough bits of stem or growing medium off the bottom and then shred the mushrooms into small clusters. Put them in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and thyme.
- Line the clusters up in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast until the mushrooms are golden brown and crisp around the edges (50-60 minutes).
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Yield: 2-3 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.