Hawk Wing Parmigiana

By , October 17, 2011

I wasn’t joking when I suggested that after “chicken hawks” we’d try hawk wing Parmigiana.

We love eggplant Parmigiana, but the eggplants we grew in the garden last summer didn’t get big enough for the recipe, so we switched to mushrooms. I’ve always joked that we could put slices of styrofoam in the Parmigiana, and I’d like it. We may have proved my point here, or not, depending on one’s feelings about this mushroom.

old hawk wing mushroom

Get them while they're fresh! Once they're old, like this one, they're no good (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

Any eggplant Parmesan/Parmigiana recipe would work for this. We used our customary recipe from our venerable Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (a.k.a. the plaid cookbook). We simply used hawk wing mushrooms in place of eggplant.

Rather than transcribe the recipe, I’ll just mention that this variation calls for breading and frying the vegetable briefly before putting it in a casserole with the sauce and cheese.

Cutting the hawk wings into 1/2 inch-slices proved challenging. One of the caps I gathered was about the size of a pie plate, several inches thick in places. I first cut it into pieces roughly the width of a good-sized eggplant, then sliced that laterally to size.

After reading the chicken hawks recipe, a local reader asked about removing the mushroom’s “teeth.” Hawk wings are a “toothed” mushroom closely related to the more familiar hedgehog. Practice differs among mushroomers. Generally, guides recommend removing hawk wing teeth to reduce the bitter flavor, which is reduced or eliminated through cooking. However, others recommend removing hedgehog teeth as well, even though there’s no flavor-oriented rationale for that. Removing the teeth is tedious and messy, so I avoid it whenever possible. On the other hand, older hawkwing caps can have quite long teeth. These can burn before the cap is properly cooked, so it might be worthwhile to remove them in some cases. It certainly makes it look nicer, but if looks really mattered, we probably wouldn’t be eating hawk wings in the first place!

But, I’d eat the dish blindfolded if I had to; it tastes great! Economically, the difference between growing our own eggplant, or buying them at the grocery store vs. finding the mushrooms for free for the time and effort of a pleasant walk in the woods, is significant.

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