We’ve observed over the years that each local variety of mushroom has its “on” and “off” years. Some years a particular variety will seem to be everywhere, others the same mushroom will be quite rare. This autumn we’ve seen fewer of our favorites, except one, which seems to be cropping up in places we’ve never seen it before: the hawk wing. Looking like a discarded, 18th century cocked hat at maturity, hawk wings have been so prevalent that we’ve taken to experimenting with them.
The advantage of hawk wings is that it is a hardier mushroom. Unlike some, like boletes and shaggy manes that have a very brief “good” period, the hawk wing grows slowly. I like to find them, note their location, and come back when I’m ready to pick them for use, days or even weeks later.
The flesh of these rather unappetizing-looking fungi (looks only a mycelium could love) is very meaty, with a slight bitterness, sort of like liver. Cooked properly, the bitterness disappears. It’s almost like steak, which led me to trying to chicken fry them. The results were very encouraging.
I used a most basic chicken fried recipe, 1/2 cup flour, 1 scant teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper. I cut the caps of several large hawk wings, and dry sautéed them in a cast iron skillet, adding oil as the moisture of the mushroom evaporated. I then dredged each cap in the breading mixture, added more oil, and fried them for about a minute on each side.
This worked very well. We tried adding a bit of egg white to the breading mixture, but didn’t seem absolutely necessary. Next time we’ll definitely spice the breading, most likely with Italian seasoning.
We’ll be eating them this way again, so we decided to shorten the name to
“chicken hawks.” Next, we’ll try hawk wing Parmigiana . . . .