I must confess I am not crazy about mushrooms. I don’t dislike them, but I don’t necessarily seek them out either. I agree there is something entirely satisfying about going out to *hunt* for mushrooms (someone recently commented on the inadequacy of the term) and then cooking them in an omelet, say, with lots of parsley just picked in your grandmother’s garden; but it’s been a while since I picked any mushrooms.
However, a few years ago I had hen of the woods mushrooms at Hearth, a lovely restaurant in New York’s East Village, and the dish single-handedly made mushrooms worth craving. It must have been in early fall and I decided to make the mushrooms for Thanksgiving. That first year I couldn’t find a sufficient amount of hen of the woods, so I added king trumpet mushrooms. Now they have become part of the Thanksgiving tradition, too.
The mushrooms should be cooked at the last minute, while the turkey is resting.
King trumpet (or king oyster) mushrooms (Pleurotus eryngii)
Hen of the woods (or maitake) mushrooms (Grifola frondosa)
Maldon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Carefully wipe dirt from king trumpet mushrooms, if necessary.
Cut off stub and thinly slice mushrooms lengthwise (the result are beautiful cross sections).
In a large skillet, heat enough olive oil to cover the surface. Thinly slice garlic, cook in olive oil until just golden, remove immediately and set aside.
Add mushrooms – just enough so they don’t overlap in the pan, working in batches as necessary – season with Maldon sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and sprinkle with thyme. Sautée until the mushrooms become golden-brown on one side, turn them over, and cook another minute or two until soft but with a bit of bite.
To serve, sprinkle with a little more thyme and the pieces of crispy garlic.