Foraged Recipes

Recipe: Red wine maitake mushroom steaks on a stovetop

Recipe: Red wine maitake mushroom steaks on a stovetop thumbnail
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Red wine maitake mushroom steaks take about 15 minutes to make on a stovetop, producing a savory dish that rivals meat in umami flavor. Find out how to make your own maitake steaks in a pan on your stovetop!


Hen of the woods / Maitake mushroom steak inspiration

Our toddler, proudly standing over his first foraged maitake mushrooms, aka hen of the woods (Grifola frondosa).

Our toddler, proudly standing over his first foraged maitake mushrooms, aka hen of the woods (Grifola frondosa).

We’re still going through the 10 pounds of maitake mushrooms (aka hen of the woods) we recently found, which is a problem we’re thankful to have. Having a fridge full of maitakes allows us the opportunity to do more experimentation with new recipes and cooking methods.

We can thank Chef Alan Bergo of Forager Chef for inspiring this recipe, since he’s the one who originally came up with the idea for maitake steaks. 

We’ve now made maitake steaks quite a few times, and this recipe is our spin on the original.

We can also thank our new neighbors, Dawn and Treon, for the red wine inspiration. We had them over for dinner and made a white wine version of maitake mushroom steaks along with American groundnut mash. They thought it was one of the best things they’d ever tasted, so we sent them home with a few maitake chunks of their own to cook with. 

The next night, they made their own maitake steaks with red wine, and reported back positively. We then made a round of red wine maitake steaks and thought they were even better than our white wine version (tangier, more savory, and beautifully colored).

Thus, we now consider this recipe ready to share with you! 

Red wine maitake mushroom steaks are one of the best ways to experience the rich umami flavor and meat-like texture that maitakes have to offer.

Red wine maitake mushroom steaks are one of the best ways to experience the rich umami flavor and meat-like texture maitake mushrooms have to offer.

5 tips to make maitake mushroom steaks just right:

This is a surprisingly simple and fast recipe to make once you get the hang of it. It takes about 10-15 minutes cook time, from start to finish.

Here are five tips to making the perfect red wine maitake mushroom steaks on your stovetop:

1. Clean your maitakes, while cutting them into thick chunks.

If you get commercially grown maitake mushrooms, this part is easy because: 1) you’ll typically get smaller mushrooms, and 2) you don’t have to worry about wild creepy crawlies hiding in the inner chambers of your maitakes. 

However, if you’ve foraged your own maitakes, you’ll need to do more cleaning and processing before your maitakes are ready to use. Here’s how we recommend cleaning maitake mushrooms: 

a. Use a serrated knife to trim off the dirty outer layers around the base/stem attachment of the mushroom.

This maitake was emerging out of mulch at the base of an oak tree. Maitakes are parasitic, so the organism was eating the oat roots below ground prior to fruiting, aka producing a mushroom. If you look closely at the base of this mushroom, you can see why it needs to be trimmed off during cleaning and processing.

This maitake was emerging out of mulch at the base of an oak tree. Maitakes are parasitic, so the organism was eating the oat roots below ground prior to fruiting, aka producing a mushroom. If you look closely at the base of this mushroom, you can see why it needs to be trimmed off during cleaning and processing.

Hopefully, your maitakes were growing amongst leaves or grass so they’re not covered with sand and grit (which happens when you have rain splashing on bare soil). Otherwise, you’ll have to trim off more of your mushroom or you’ll end up chewing on grit. 

b. Start pulling and/or cutting the mushroom into thick, hand-length chunks. Use a clean paintbrush or makeup brush to remove any dirt or debris.

As you’re cleaning and cutting, make sure nothing is living inside the maitake’s internal crevasses. If you’re squeamish about insects, mollusks, millipedes, etc, this task may be a bit challenging for you. It builds character though. (ha) 

Cross-section of a maitake. Be sure things you don't want to eat aren't living inside the internal chambers.

Cross-section of a maitake. Check internal chambers for things you don’t want to eat.

c. If necessary, give each mushroom chunk a final quick rinse with a kitchen sprayer. However, if you can avoid spraying them, do so because it’s generally better to store and cook with unsaturated mushrooms rather than mushrooms which have higher water content.

Maitakes cleaned and processed into perfect sized chunks for eating as maitake mushroom steaks. These were not rinsed before being bagged and put into the veggie drawer in our fridge for storage. They're still in perfect shape three weeks later.

Maitakes cleaned and processed into perfect sized chunks for eating as maitake mushroom steaks. These were not rinsed before being bagged and put into the veggie drawer in our fridge for storage. They’re still in perfect shape three weeks later.

2. Use thick chunks of fresh maitake mushrooms, rather than small, thin pieces.

Large and small size ranges of ideally apportioned chunks of maitake mushrooms for making into steaks. The large chunk is about 5.5 ounces and the smaller one is closer to 3 ounces. Each piece is 2-3

Large and small size ranges of ideally apportioned chunks of maitake mushrooms for making into steaks. The large chunk is about 5.5 ounces and the smaller one is closer to 3 ounces. Each piece is 2-3″ thick and has both cap and stem sections.

You might be tempted to use small or thin-cut pieces of maitake mushrooms to make steaks. You might also be tempted not to use the firm, dense stem sections.

However, the best maitake mushroom steaks are made from thicker 2-3″ thick chunks. And the seemingly tough stems soften into a wonderful meat-like texture once they’re cooked, since high heat breaks down the chitin in the cell walls which gives mushrooms their structure. 

3. Use nested cast iron pans (or alternatives). 

This recipe gives you a bit of a workout. That’s because you need to press down hard on the maitake chunks as they’re cooking in order to get them into a flat, steak-like final form. 

Pressing also helps push the water out of the mushrooms, concentrates their flavor, and gives them their final crispy outer texture. 

For pressing our maitake steaks, we use two nested cast iron skillets. Cast iron pans are ideal for this recipe because they’re heavy and they have a lip to reduce splatter. 

Maitake mushrooms about to be pressed into steaks between two nested cast iron pans. This process helps flatten the mushrooms into a uniform steak-like thickness, expels their water, concentrates their umami flavor, and gives them a perfect crisped surface.

Maitake mushrooms about to be pressed into steaks between two nested cast iron pans. This process helps flatten the mushrooms into a uniform steak-like thickness, expels their water, concentrates their umami flavor, and gives them a perfect crisped surface.

If you don’t have a second pan that nests well into your primary/cooking pan, you could instead use some other kitchen object for pressing such as a thick flat plate or bowl. Alternatively, you could use a griddle to cook on and a pan for pressing, but a griddle will allow splatter and could get a bit messy when you add red wine.      

Regardless, you’ll want to have oven mitts handy as things start heating up (including the hot steam and spatter that comes out of the lower pan). 

4. Time your ingredient additions right – and use good red wine. 

You’ll start by letting your pan heat up over medium heat before adding a generous amount of butter. Once your butter is sizzling, the mushroom chunks go in and you’ll start pressing down hard, which will elicit a screaming sound from your mushrooms as the water tries to escape the inferno (no, your mushrooms are not suffering). 

Side and top views of the maitake chunks as they're placed in the cast iron pan.

Side and top views of the maitake chunks as they’re placed in the buttered cast iron pan.

You don’t have to forcefully press down on the mushrooms the whole time they’re cooking, but you will want to leave whatever pressing object you’re using on top of the mushrooms for the duration. The entire cooking process takes less than 15 minutes.

After ~5 minutes on the first side, you’ll add more butter, flip the mushrooms, press, and cook the other sides. After the second side has cooked for about 5 minutes, you’ll add a bit more butter plus your red wine (use a quality full-bodied red). Flip again, press; flip again, press – to make sure that both sides of the mushroom absorb some red wine flavor and color onto their surface areas before the red wine cooks out of the pan. 

Cook and press as-needed for another 30-60 seconds on each side until your mushroom steaks are perfectly browned and crispy, but not charred. 

Perfectly finished and ready for the plate! Red wine maitake mushroom steaks.

Perfectly finished and ready for the plate! Red wine maitake mushroom steaks.

Sprinkle both sides with large flake salt (assuming you cooked with unsalted butter) and add your garnishes. We garnished with fresh thyme leaves from our garden. You could also add some seasonal flowers, chives, grated parmesan, etc.  

5. Serve warm. 

You’ll want to serve your maitake mushrooms when they’re still nice and warm. You don’t want to eat them cold or room temp any more than you’d want to eat steak or chicken at room temp.  

You can use maitake steaks as a meat substitute in a main course (although they have far less protein), a side served with meat, or an appetizer.

Maitakes are quite nutrient dense. A single ~5 ounce maitake mushroom steak (weighed before cooking) contains:

  • 3 grams protein
  • 10 grams carbohydrates (mostly complex carbohydrates)
  • less than 1 gram of fat
  • ~400% of your daily recommended dose of Vitamin D. 

Recipe: Red wine maitake mushroom steaks

Red wine maitake mushroom steak recipe

Recipe: Red wine maitake mushroom steaks, aka hen of the woods steaks.
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Red wine maitake mushroom steaks (Grifola frondosa)

Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Grifola frondosa recipes, hen of the woods steaks, maitake mushroom steaks
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 3 servings
Author: Aaron von Frank

A delicious savory recipe featuring maitake mushrooms, aka hen of the woods. Takes about 10-15 minutes from start to finish, and makes an excellent meat substitute that lets maitakes be the star of the show!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb cleaned maitake mushroom, separated into 4-6 ounce chunks 2-3" thick
  • 5 tbsp unsalted organic grass-fed butter, or more as needed (if you use salted butter, you probably won't need to sprinkle salt over the mushroom steaks at the end)
  • 1/4 cup red wine (Use a bold, full-bodied red. We used a Petite Sirah.)
  • large flake salt to taste (sprinkle generously on both sides of steaks)
  • garnish options - fresh thyme, seasonal flowers, fresh-grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Clean and process maitake mushrooms into roughly hand-sized chunks, 3-6 ounces each and 2-3" thick, ideally with both stem and cap sections on each chunk. (See pictures in artlcle for reference.)

  2. Heat large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add 2-3 tbsp butter. Once butter is sizzling, add maitake chunks, then immediately and forcefully press down on mushroom chunks with smaller cast iron pan that nests inside larger cooking pan (see picture in article). You can release pressure on pan after about a minute or so (or once the pan doesn't push back). Cook for ~5 minutes on one side of the mushroom, then add more butter to pan before flipping mushrooms, and repeating the process on the other side for another ~5 minutes.

    Once both sides of the mushroom steaks are nicely cooked/browned and the mushrooms are evenly flattened, add red wine to pan and flip steaks again for another 30-60 seconds on each side to allow wine flavor and color to evenly penetrate the surface. Once wine burns off and the steaks are perfectly browned and wine-stained, sprinkle exposed side with salt, then flip on to plate. Sprinkle other side with salt and add garnish.

    Serve warm.

Let us know if you love these red wine maitake steaks as much as we do!

KIGI,
Tyrantfarms

Other maitake articles you’ll want to chew on: 

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