Even though I’d already noticed that the mushrooms have arrived a bit early this year, I was still taken by surprise when I found a nice, big hawk wing on the trail. I took it home and sautéed it for that evening’s dinner, but this time I took a risk and tried something new and simpler, which paid off well.
Hawk wings are a toothed mushroom, meaning that the underside of the cap is covered with stalactite-like nubs. Apparently, all toothed mushrooms are safe to eat, which is not precisely the same as edible. My primary source for all things mycological, David Arora, listed hawk wings as inedible in his first book, Mushrooms Demystified, but in his field guide, All That the Rain Promises and More (check your local bookstore for these titles) admitted that they could be made tolerable if sautéed for more than 20 minutes to remove the bitterness.
We’ve eaten hawk wings for several years. We’d always taken the time and effort to scrape the teeth off with a knife, which is supposed to make the mushroom less bitter. I’d read that some people do the same with hedgehogs, a mushroom that needs no such treatment, since they’re rather sweet. So, with this new hawk wing, I sliced it up without scraping. The result, after far less than 20 minutes of sautéing, by the way, was delicious.
There is always, inevitably, a tinge of bitterness to hawk wings, sort of like beef liver, although not nearly so pronounced. To us, hawk wings are like very tender beef—perhaps fillet Mignon, although I have little experience with that. We sometimes serve them with steak, or dip them in barbecue sauce.
We’re glad to eliminate the additional job of scraping hawk wings. We will, however, take greater care gathering them. We’ll need to place them upright in our mushroom bag to ensure that debris doesn’t fall into the toothed side, where it will be difficult to remove.