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A Thanksgiving Unlike Any Other

Maitake Mushrooms


Thanksgiving will be different for most people across the country - ours certainly will be. For over thirty years, we’ve enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with three other families who live close by. The head count has changed throughout the years, decreasing as children move away or increasing as they marry and bring new family into the fold. This year’s festivities were set to be extra celebratory as two baby boys were born this year – my grandson, Aidan, and our friends’ grandson, Alexander. We were looking forward to our first Thanksgiving with them!

Instead, like many other families, pandemic concerns have made us extremely cautious and there will only be two of us at our Thanksgiving meal. We’ll change the menu a bit, not having as many side dishes and with an easier preparation. That said, my husband and I have some mandatory recipes… for me, it’s a classic roast turkey and my mom’s recipe for stuffing. On my husband’s mandatory list are homemade cranberry sauce and old-fashioned giblet gravy. As in years past, I’ll also make an Ultimate Natural Fruitcake that weekend so we can baste it with brandy for several weeks before enjoying at Christmas. These recipes which are dear to my heart have all been published in past issues of BerkshireStyle.

We’ll have a couple of different side dishes for Thanksgiving this year. I might make some mashed potatoes and some butternut squash but I’m also going to make some Fioretto and Maitake mushrooms. Fioretto, also known as flowering cauliflower, is actually a hybrid of cauliflower and broccoli. It has thin stems with a small floret on top and a delicate flavor. Because of its diminutive size, Fioretto cooks up very quickly. I steam it in a little water for a couple of minutes then finish it off in the same pan sautéed with a little olive oil until it is slightly charred. A dash of salt or some chopped herbs and it’s done.

Maitake mushrooms will be a perfect choice for our Thanksgiving dinner as their deep flavor pairs very well with a hardy meal. The Japanese word “maitake” translates as “dancing mushroom” which is an apt description, as the frilly clusters remind me of old-fashioned dresses with petticoat skirts. You might know them by the name hen-of-the-woods. As with the fioretto, my recipe is quick, easy and delicious.


Maitake mushrooms
Extra virgin olive oil
Toasted sesame oil

Trim any tough portions from the mushrooms and cut the cluster into large bite-sized pieces.

Toss the mushrooms with a drizzle of olive oil and toasted sesame oil.

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy sauté pan under medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering.

Cook the mushrooms in the hot pan until they are crisp with a golden-brown crust. Season with a little salt and pepper and toss with a little more toasted sesame oil before serving.