Hen of the woods offer a large amount of wild mushrooms for little work, but cooking and processing large amounts can be a task. Grilling mushrooms to make duxelles save time and creates a different flavor than traditional French mushroom duxelles.
We've all been there, you came upon your hen tree, or maybe you just stumbled on a new one, and it's packed with pounds and pounds of clean, fresh hens.
Finding them was the easy part. Now comes the work of bringing them home, along with hours of cleaning, cooking and processing.
With mushrooms so big, even cooking them can be a challenge. Trying to fit 50 lbs of hens into your oven to roast before making them into duxelles, likely the best space-saving technique for large amounts of wild mushrooms, is a chore.
Grill those hens to save time and add flavor
Having this problem myself one year, and having a hankering to get the grill cranked and imbue the shrooms with some gentle smokiness, I decided not to braise or roast them, instead I just oiled my hens up, cracked a beer and grilled the suckers after I'd broken them down into big, clean hunks.
After the mushrooms are grilled and cooked through, all you have to do is pulse them in a food processor into a coarse grind, then sweat your shallots, add a good shot of sherry, season them up, and voila: a labor saving mushroom hack that adds some great dimension to traditional duxelles. (See my more traditional wild mushroom duxelles recipe here).
The only thing to watch is the heat of your grill. I definitely recommend charcoal and a couple soaked woodchips, or just wood charcoal, but you could just grill them on your propane grill too, although it won't taste the same. Either way, you might consider it the next time you find that monster maitake. You can also use it with chicken of the woods mushrooms.
Drying duxelles in the oven to deepen the flavor
It's an extra step, but this is a trick I recommend for all duxelles. Browning is the key to great flavor, and, although you get some good flavor from grilling the hens, if you spread the finished duxelles on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, spray them with oil, and bake in a hot oven you can deepen the flavor.
Here's how I do that. After the preliminary cooking, roast the mushroom duxelles at 400F for 20-25 minutes, keeping an eye on them so they don't dry out, turning the mixture over and mixing with a spatula half-way through. This helps with the evaporation of water, which translates to deeper flavor. It's optional.
Grilled Hen of the Woods Mushroom Duxelles
- 1 Grill
- 1 Food processor
- 1 baking sheet optional
- 5 lb fresh wild mushrooms cleaned, caps and stems roughly chopped.
- 5 tablespoon shallot diced ¼ or chopped roughly
- 2.5 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ¼ cup flavorless oil lard or butter
- 1.25 cup dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
- 1 cup water
- Clean the hens meticulously. Only use those portions that are perfectly clean.
- Oil the mushrooms, then grill until cooked, be careful not to overcook the mushrooms which would dry them out. Washing the mushrooms while cleaning actually helps them to not dry out here.
- When the mushrooms are cooked, allow them to cool for a few minutes, then break them into manageable sized pieces that will fit in your food processor and pulse them until finely chopped. Do not over pulse or attempt to puree.
- Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the shallots, cook for a minute or two, then add the mushrooms, season with the salt and pepper, and cook for a few minutes more. Add the water to refresh the mushrooms, then cook until the pan is nearly dry.
- Add the sherry, then cook off the liquid until the pan is dry. Remove the pan from the heat, taste, adjust for salt if needed.
- Cool the duxelles, then pack into a container and freeze, or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Derivative Recipes Using Mushroom Duxelles
Heres a couple examples of how you might use these.
Mushroom and Beef Runzas / Bierocks
I was away during the prime of HOW season, but came home to VT this week and went to my trusty Hen tree and found a big old one. Am hoping it's not too old (some large pores, but still a nice white color). Am trying this recipe. How will I know when the mushroom is "done" on the grill? I have some chunks with thick stems....
If I can pull this off, it will be a great way to store a big mushroom in a small space, and have deliciousness ready to cook with out of the freezer on a cold winter evening.
Am I totally off base to assume if it is a little under-cooked on the grill, it will cook up a little more with the shallots?
Claudia, no, you're not. Presumably here you're cooking the hens 3 times: once on the grill to wilt, second cooking with the shallots, and third when you heat them up again to add to a dish, put in a stuffing, etc. No danger of undercooking here. Glad you were able to get some. I was getting horribly skunked while we were filming episode six that will feature hens, and now, of course, after we're done filming, my spots are cranking them out. Enjoy.
Alan, my duxelle came out so good! I did burn a few tips of the mushroom on the grill, but just broke those pieces off and followed the recipe for the rest. I will use this for the rest of my life when I get a big fall HOW and want to store it.
Thank you for the comfort in no danger of undercooking. I've never cooked a mushroom on the grill before. I've had a lot of fun with your recipes this year, starting in the spring with the nettle bread, and finishing off with this duxelle.
About your Hens appearing after you needed them for the shoot. That is always the way! But at least they are coming on now. Enjoy and thank you Alan for sharing with us.
Hey there! This is a wonderful recipe, and I’d love to turn my haul of hens into duxelles, however I do not have a grill. How would I do this without a grill? Is it necessary to roast or grill the Maitake before making the duxelles? Thank you!
You don't have to grill maitakes to make duxelles, just search for mushroom duxelles on this website and use the basic recipe. I grill them here as hens are so large that sautéing them can be a pain.