Foraging food from our landscape

Gourmet dishes from nature's finest offerings.

A mushroom on a plate
Alan Bergo is a James Beard Award winner who goes off the beaten path to find ingredients. Hen of the woods mushrooms are one of his favorites.
Courtesy of Alan Bergo

The temperatures have dropped. The leaves are changing. And people across Minnesota are getting outdoors to savor the season — but Alan Bergo really savors it. He goes by “The Forager Chef.” He’s built a career on plucking food from our landscape and turning it into gourmet dishes. He says you can do it, too.

Hear the full conversation with Alan Bergo using the audio player above and check out a roasted hen of the woods recipe below.

Roasted Hen of the Woods

Serves 4

  • 12 oz hen of the woods, preferably wild, peeled into leaves, cleaned (lightly swished in water and/or brushed as needed if wild/dirty)

  • 3 tablespoons flavorless cooking oil

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt plus an extra sprinkle

  • 1 teaspoon Chopped fresh thyme, rosemary, or sage dried thyme is an ok substitute, but not rosemary as it will burn

  • 6-7 cracks of the pepper mill or to taste

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed with a knife

    Roasted mushroom on a tray
    Roasted hen of the woods mushrooms right out of the oven.
    Courtesy of Alan Bergo

Directions

Toss the pieces of hen of the woods (press them between paper towels to weep water if you had to rinse them first) with all ingredients.

If you have cultivated hen of the woods, do this very gently as most are quite fragile.

Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon mat and bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for 25-35 minutes (rotating 180 degrees half-way through if your oven heats unevenly) until the mushrooms are crisp around the edges, but still slightly tender in the center.

Cultivated mushrooms may take a bit longer as they typically contain more water. Wild hens, especially those picked in a dry spell, will cook quicker.

Remove the mushrooms and allow to cool on the baking sheet until you can handle them then eat.

MPR News is Reader Funded

Before you keep reading, take a moment to donate to MPR News. Your financial support ensures that factual and trusted news and context remain accessible to all.