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Hens and Chicks, a Mushroom Dish

hens chicks overhead

I’m playing with the names of the mushrooms involved in this dish. It hinges on maitake and suphur shelf mushrooms, also known as Hen of the Woods and Chicken of the Woods, respectively.

The two mushrooms are very different: Chicken of the woods is meaty, slightly orange and can be tough. (Fresh is WAAY better than dried) Hen of the woods is firm but thin, gray and is far “woodsier” than its friend. If you can’t find both of these mushrooms — I keep dried ones on hand — you could in theory use portobello to substitute for the chicken of the woods, and dried chanterelles, porcini or some other mushroom to sub in for the hen of the woods. But really it will be a very different dish if you do. You can also buy both kinds of mushrooms online from Earthy Delights.

To further punch up the hens and chicks thing, I am cooking with pheasant fat — use chicken fat if you can get it (it’ll render out using my technique for duck fat just fine) or just use butter. The hen of the woods dish is also a glorified omelet, just to go one step further. 

And to highlight the “woods” part, I glaze the chicken of the woods with maple syrup and include rosemary, which to me is reminiscent of a pine forest, in the hen of the woods dish.

There is a lot going on in this dish, so I will break it into two main steps: The hens, and the chicks.

Serves 4

  • 16-20 nice slices of chicken of the woods mushrooms, about 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 cup of rehydrated or fresh hen of the woods mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons pheasant or chicken fat, or butter
  • Extra butter to grease ramekins
  • 1 cup rehydrating liquid from chicken of the woods mushrooms, or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 9 large eggs
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 thick slices of bacon, cut into little batons
  • 1 teaspoon minced rosemary
  • 1 pound broccoli raab, spinach, chard or other green leafy veggie
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. If using dried mushrooms, soak them in hot water with a little salt added. Chicken of the woods mushrooms need a long time to soak, hen of the woods only about 90 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Make the Hens. Grease 4 ramekins with butter. If you don’t have ramekins, you can make the hens dish like a frittata by pouring everything into an oven-proof frying pan.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons pheasant or chicken fat in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, bacon and the hen of the woods mushrooms until they begin to brown.
  5. Add a little salt, the garlic and rosemary and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat, remove the mushroom mixture and allow it to cool somewhat, about 10 minutes.
  7. Lightly beat the eggs.
  8. Divide the mushroom mixture into the ramekins (or into an oven-proof frying pan if using), and pour the eggs over each.
  9. Put the ramekins in a roasting pan, and pour in enough water so you are not afraid of it evaporating, about 1/2 inch. Bake for 1 hour.
  10. Meanwhile, make the Chicks. Wipe out the frying pan and heat 2 more tablespoons of pheasant fat over medium-high heat.
  11. Saute the chicken of the woods slices with some salt until you they begin to brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  12. Pour over the white wine and turn the heat up to high. Boil this furiously until it is almost gone.
  13. Pour in the rehydrating liquid or chicken stock, bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Coer, then simmer until the liquid is nearly gone, about 35 minutes.
  14. When the liquid is mostly evaporated, add the maple syrup and swirl to combine. Cook this down to a glaze.
  15. Remove the hens and let cool for 5 minutes.
  16. In another pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the greens and toss to wilt. Add some salt and keep tossing. You want them to be bright green, so don’t overcook.
  17. To assemble, free the hens from the ramekins and turn out gently. Place on the plate. If using the frying pan method, cut out wedges. Put some greens down on the plate next to the omelet and top with slices of chicken of the woods mushrooms.
  18. Add a little black pepper and serve hot.

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3 responses to “Hens and Chicks, a Mushroom Dish”

  1. The Wild Mushrooms of Fall | Food & Think

    [...] shelf mushroom. According to the blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook—which has an amusingly named recipe for a dish called Hens and Chicks that uses both fowl-sounding mushrooms—chicken of the woods tastes meaty while hen of the woods [...]

  2. Chris

    Hi Hank, No comments for this one and its a pretty old post. Hopefully I’ll catch you. On a recent failed grouse hunting trip, I found a lot of Chicken of the woods. I need to process it all, and I agree 100% on the fresher is better with both these mushrooms. The fall is upon us here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and I’m thinking beef, dark meat, flavors. Any suggestions?

  3. Alan

    We got some grouse and both chicken and hen of the woods recently so had a little “cook-off.” I tried smoking some some grouse and chicken of the woods… pretty awesome, but by far the best was a chicken of the woods parmesan where I sauteed the best pieces, like real chicken, dredged in egg wash and coated in panko, then layered in a baking dish with homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. One of the best things I have ever made.

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