MattVA noticed that I commented on never having had a hen-of-the-woods. He very kindly fixed that a week or so ago. His grandmother had some growing around an old red oak on her property. He invited me out there, and gave me a couple hens. I got to see them growing. I got to taste them. It was A LOT of hen. I've included a picture of what he gave me, minus a little I sauteed in order to taste it and to see how I did eating it.
It is an excellent mushroom. The flavor is very good, and it keeps a little crispiness even after cooking. I've had it sauteed, on pizza, in stir-fry, and the base cut as a thin steak, marinated in an Asian-style marinade, and fried like a small steak. Mostly I've dried it.
I tried very hard to describe to my husband what it looked like growing. We went to a local park where we thought there were old red oaks (Larus). We found a number of big, old oaks, but now more hens (I just wanted to show him what they looked like growing--believe me, we did not need to harvest any more.) We found blewits (which I think are slimy).
Yesterday, when my husband went to our hunting land for muzzle-loader deer season, he came home deerless, but he brought me two small (thank goodness) hens-of-the-woods. We've been looking for them for two seasons but just didn't know what to look for. They were by one of the big (but not the biggest) red oaks at the edge of our property (the very edges have the biggest trees). I think I'm going to try freezing these.
So, I still haven't found my own, but my husband has. I'm delighted I grow it on my property. I seem to grow almost everything there. It is a very mushroomy 12 acres. I couldn't ask for better.
The hen is an amazing mushroom, and a large one is a lot of food. I'm very impressed and will keep my eye out a bit yet this year so I can try to find my own, and I'll definitely want more by next fall. I'll need to figure out lots more things to do with it, and see how it rehydrates this winter.