|Hen Tapenade on Crostini|
Hen-of-the-Woods (Grifola frondosa) is an autumn mushroom we love. We received our first Hen from Russ Cohen in a trade for some jellies made from foraged wild foods, after we took a walk with him last year. Since then, we have been dreaming about the hen season. Joining the Connecticut Valley Mycological Society has taught us a lot about how to look for this beautiful polypore, such as preferred habitat, correct timing, and how to determine a desirable specimen vs. a too old or too young specimen. When cleaning the mushroom and separating the parts for drying, freezing, and eating fresh, we usually end up with a lot of very solid stems from the cores of the mushrooms. These solid cores form the base of a spread that is highly flavorful and almost meaty. We like to make a grilled cheese sandwich with a heavy layer of tapenade, or eat it just spread on crackers.
Hen-of-the-Woods Tapenade makes about 3 cups of tapenade
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 pound hen-of-the-woods mushroom cores, cleaned and coarsely chopped
1 c. sliced shallots
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
4 T bread crumbs, as needed
1. In a large bowl combine the balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, and black pepper. Add the chopped mushroom cores and marinate at least 2 hours.
2. Heat the oven to 375°F. Remove the mushroom from the marinade and add the shallots and garlic. Spread the marinated mushroom onto an oiled sheetpan and roast for 30 minutes, until tender and browned. Cool.
3. Now remove the shallots and garlic from the marinade and place on another sheetpan. Roast for 20 minutes until tender.
4. In a food processor, pulse the shallots and garlic until chopped finely. Add the roasted mushroom and pulse until a chunky paste forms. Up to 4 T of bread crumbs may need to be added to absorb extra moisture to make the tapenade spreadable.