That’s a maitake, or hen-in-the-woods, mushroom. We have an incredibly knowledgeable (and generous) friend who forages for mushrooms. This fall was particularly productive and she had more than she needed. So we were more than glad to take this one off her hands.
Taking Michelle’s advice, I coarsely chopped the whole thing, sauteed it in a dry pan, and then added olive oil, garlic, and salt. It’s amazingly delicious – different than any other mushroom I’ve ever had. We have tons of it left, in the freezer, awaiting quiche, and quinoa pilaf and all sorts of other amazing dishes.
And proof that it was indeed bigger than Ellie’s head.