So, we are taking a break from our regularly scheduled broadcast of Meat the Press Mondays due to the small issue of Justin forgetting to charge the battery (and backup battery) for the camera…woops :). Next week we will return with some great new videos for you.
A couple weeks ago we highlighted the use of compound butters to enhance a meat. Today we would like to discuss the use of a duxelle, specifically a Hen of the Woods mushroom duxelle, to make your next dish stand out. We thought this would be great due to the popularity lately of our previous Fresh Fridays posts about these great wild mushrooms.
This year in New England agriculture has been one of mixed blessings, we had lots of rain which translated to good watering of crops and aesthetic plants alike. Some plants had trouble, mixed growing seasons, some did ok, or about the same as always, and some did especially well. In the beginning of the year, the Hadley asparagus was a little on and off, with plentiful harvests and great availability one week, and then limited to no availability the next. Fortunately, asparagus grows extremely fast. On the other hand a crop that grows relatively slow, pumpkins, had a bad year here in New England. The ground was just too wet for too long and the big orange fruits had issues with mold and rot. Joe recently observed the price of a three pack of kind of crappy small/mediumish pumpkins at $14…not what we’re used to seeing at all. But the real blessing from all the rain this year has been the abundance of wild mushrooms, in particular the Hen of The Woods type, which we thoroughly enjoy and have written about before.
This weekend at work we had calls from three different mushroom foragers asking us how much we needed. Fortunately for our friends we are loyal customers and went with our regular mushroom man and we ended up purchasing some of the most beautiful Hen Of The Woods mushrooms that either of us have seen to date.
Hen of the Wood mushrooms are favorites of people that live in the area but many do not know the rich history of this mushroom. For over four thousand years, these wild mushrooms, also know as “Mitake” mushrooms have been praised in Japan for it’s excellent health benefits
- Stimulating the immune system
- Regulating the healthy functioning of the digestive system
- Moderating blood sugar levels
- Providing anti-oxidant support
- Improving skin health
- Assisting in weight control
- Calming of the nervous system
Due to their abundance in Japan, this wild mushroom makes up one of the 4 major or so major mushrooms which are popular in the country. Within the United States, Hen of the Woods are typically found in the Northeast but some have been found as far away as Idaho. In the Northeast, Mitakes typically grow in clusters at the foots of big oak trees which is exactly where our local mushroom forager has been finding them for us. These mushrooms can grow up to 50 pounds earning them the nickname of “King of Mushrooms”. With mushrooms that can grow so big, there is only one thing to do and that is come up with recipes to use them in!
A couple weeks ago when we got our first Hen of the Woods mushrooms of the season, we ran a risotto special last time and it sold like hotcakes. Joe doesn’t like to be repetitive, so this time around we ran a special featuring a Hen Of The Woods duxelle, which is just a fancy word for mushroom stuffing. We used this stuffing in filet mignon, which was butterflied, pinwheel style (basically unrolling the filet like it was a roll of paper towels), spread a generous layer of my duxelle on the inside and then rolled back up, tied with butchers twine, and grilled the whole thing. The result is a wonderful melding of mushroom and beef flavors in every bite. Doing a stuffing like this is also especially nice because the juices released by the meat as it cooks are absorbed by the mushrooms, and mushroom juices are permeating the steak as it rests both before and after cooking, creating a delicious harmony of flavor. This stuffing is especially good in game birds, pork, or even as a spread on crackers or in a puff pastry appetizer. But if you’ve read any of our previous posts you well know that I am partial to beef, so naturally that is where my duxelle ended up this week.
Hen Of The Woods Duxelle
- 1.5 lbs hen of the woods mushrooms, stems and leaves, evenly distributed and chopped to a small rough dice
- 1/2 large onion, small chop
- 1 leek white part only, small chop
- 1 tsp garlic minced fine
- 4 slices bacon, rough chop
- 1/2 cup dry white cooking wine
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1/8 lemon worth of juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
Once you have all your chopping done this recipe is really easy. Start by rendering the fat out of the bacon on a large pan over medium heat. When the bacon bits are crisp remove them and set aside. In the rendered bacon fat add the onion and the leek, saute till the onion and leek are soft and begin to almost brown, add the garlic and stir to combine, next add all the mushroom bits, mix well, and when the mushrooms begin to sing to you, salt liberally. Keep stirring, and when the mixture seems to be slightly reduced and looks a bit dry, add the wine, let this mixture reduce stirring occasionally, and when approximately, 7/8 of the liquid has reduced/been absorbed, add the lemon juice, parsley, and reserved bacon bits, mix to heat through, then taste to check for seasoning, add more salt and black pepper if needed.
The result should be sweet and aromatic from the onion and leek, and woodsy and rich from the mushroom, with a hit of salty savoriness from the bacon flavor, which will all be balanced with a slight fresh tang from the acid of the lemon juice. Now all you have to do is let the duxelle cool before stuffing your favorite food with it, use it liberally, and experiment with a wide variety of foods. The duxelle will hold well in the fridge for several days, or if you can’t get to it immediately, do what my mushroom forager does, pop it in an old ice cube tray, wrap it tightly and freeze it.
You can download a PDF version of this Hen of the Woods Duxelle recipe
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Contributing Writer: Joseph M. Gionfriddo
Photo by: sweet little bunny