A traditional Italian preparation for chicken of the woods, flavored with wild monarda leaves and served with charred bread rubbed with garlic.
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Keyword: Chicken of the woods
1lbyoung tender chicken of the woods sliced 1/4 -1/2 inch thick
1large clove garlic
¼cupmild olive oil or extra virgin mixed with flavorless oil, like grapeseed plus a tablespoon or two extra if the pan threatens to dry out, along with a drizzle at the end.
1large shallot or a small yellow onion
1tablespoonsliced Monarda fistulosafresh mint or oregano
Crushed red pepper flakes or hot chilito taste
1tablespooncapersor a small handful of Catelvetrano olives (see note)
2dried bay leaves
¼cupdry white wine
¼cupwater or stock
1.5cupsseedless tomato pureeor tomato sauce (see note)
Grilled high quality breadpreferably slightly charred, for serving
A couple whole fresh garlic cloves, as needed for rubbing into the bread
Heat the oil in a wide pan with high sides a cast iron skillet will work, but isn’t ideal as the sauce is acidic.
Add the mushrooms and cook until they've given up their moisture, then push them to the side of the pan, add a little extra oil if the pan looks dry, or if your mushrooms were very juicy. Add the garlic to the clean spot of the pan, then arrange the pan off-center on the burner so that the heat is focused on the garlic.
Sweat the garlic in the oil slowly, taking your time until it's light golden and aromatic, then add the shallots and cook for a minute.
Add the crushed red pepper directly to the garlic and shallot, cook for a moment more, then deglaze the pan with the wine, tossing in the bay leaf. Reduce the sauce by half, then add the tomato puree, water, capers or olives, bergamot or other herbs and cook until the mixture is thickened lightly and the mushrooms are coated with a rich sauce, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly oil the bread and char on a grill. It should have good black spots, but not by ashy. Rub a garlic clove gently into the toasted bread slices, pressing down so that it "melts" into the bread a bit--don't go crazy, a little goes a long way here.
Double check the seasoning of the mushrooms for salt and chili, adjust as needed, then serve the stewed mushrooms with the grilled garlic bread on the side. Drizzle some oil over the top to give the dish an attractive sheen.
Spoon the mushrooms and their sauce on the bread and eat. Leftovers make killer mushroom hoagies a la cheesy meatball sub sandwiches.