The first weekend in October is the weekend to harvest the maitake mushrooms (Grifola frondosa, or chicken-of-the-woods) that grow around our oak tree. Thanks to all the rain in August and September, this turned out to be a wildly productive year. Last year we harvested one mushroom the size of two cauliflower heads. This year – well, pictures say it best.
I’m estimating we harvested about 20 pounds of ole Grifola this year. The question became “what to do with all of these mushrooms?”
So we had them on pasta first because the kids were so excited to eat them.
And then I came up with the brilliant idea of drying them.
Three dehydrator-fulls later, we have enough mushrooms to get through seven winters.
Even though none of us are crazy about mushrooms, we do like chicken-of-the-woods, especially served in my favorite mushroom-containing recipe ever, courtesy of a dear friend who passed this recipe along to me a decade ago.
5-6 C water or stock
1 tbsp butter
4 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 C shiitake or maitake mushroom caps, sliced thin
1 large carrot, diced fine
1-1/2 C pearled or hulled barley
1 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
1/2 C grated parmesan cheese
1/2 C chopped parsley
black pepper to taste
1 lemon wedge
Bring water (or stock) to boil, then turn heat to low. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, mushroom, and carrot and saute for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the barley. Saute for 2 more minutes and keep stirring.
Add 1 C of water (or stock) and 1 tsp of salt and stir. Turn heat to low and add remaining water 1/2 C at a time, stirring occasionally, and waiting until liquid is almost completely absorbed before adding more. The barley should cook for ~45 minutes, or until tender but slightly chewy.
When barley is done, stir in parmesan cheese and 3 tbsp parsley. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon. Garnish with more parsley.