Sautéed hen of the woods and king trumpet mushrooms

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)

Olive oil

Garlic

Fresh thyme

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.

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