If you hunt hen of the woods, you’ve probably had the problem of not knowing what to do with large-sized hens that pop up during the season. Hens are the best young, but it’s easier said than done to get them at that perfect, tender, button stage.
Thankfully, and in some ways unfortunately, they stay perfectly edible through most of their life, and don’t get near as woody as chicken of the woods with age from my experience. When you find that big pig hen though, and you take it home, having some go-to tricks can turn cooking with them from a repetitive chore into a breeze.
These cakes were born out of necessity for me one year coming up with apps for a dinner where my budget was slim, and I needed to gather as many things as possible myself to keep a tight food cost, and a healthy profit. After a great hen of the woods harvest in the fall, I had plenty of duxelles in the freezer.
A mushroom duxelles derivitive recipe
Mushroom duxelles are a great way to preserve just about any mushroom, and with hens in particular, it helps to cut down on the sheer size of the mushroom pile you’re looking at, and can be stored a lot easier than cooked mushrooms. Duxelles can be mushed flat in a bag for quick thawing, frozen in ice cub trays and popped out-there’s lots of creative storage techniques you could dream up for keeping a frozen paste of mushroom concentrate.
Even so, if you duxelles a 10 lb hen, you’re going to have *a lot* of duxelles, so traditional duxelles recipes may not help you use up as many as you’d like at a time. You need something that burns through them, and making little fried cakes of pure mushroom is a great way to do that.
I serve these as tender little canapes that eat a bit like crabcakes, but they could easily be make into delicate burgers, little rolled sausages, or even thin, crisp cakes like traditional latkes. To sweeten the deal, I like to serve them with caramelized onion sour cream, (just think top the tater dip) and maybe a little chopped dill as an appetizer, but they’d be just as at home for breakfast as a substitute for sausage, or baked into some tomato sauce like breaded eggplant.
Hen of the Woods Mushroom Fritters
- Heavy pan, like cast iron
- 1 lb mushroom duxelles made from hen of the woods
- Zest of half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 large eggs + 1 yolk
- A couple good cracks of the pepper mill
- Kosher salt to taste (this will depend on how much salt you put in your duxelles)
- 2 tablespoons high quality grated parmesan cheese optional
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Flavorless oil or lard for cooking
- Combine all ingredients and mix well. Portion the cakes into whatever size and thickness you like, then lay them out on parchment or wax paper to prevent sticking.
- Fry until golden on each side, and serve immediately.
- These are excellent with flavored sour cream.