Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tastes Like Chicken (of the Woods)

Continuing on the theme of foraging, last night I had this chicken of the woods mushroom, not to be confused with the hen of the woods or chicken of the sea. One of the "foolproof four," not to be confused with the "fatal five," this fungi is popular with entry level mycophiles for its easily identifiable characteristics (huge, yellow) and lack of poisonous look-alikes.

This was a gift to me from a more established forager, though I'm beginning to think I'd trust myself to identify it as well. Not quite sure if this was the kind of fungi that releases it's flavor best in water or fat, I split the difference and prepared it with a short simmer in salt water, then a sauté in olive oil and a splash of broth. The tender outer edges of the shelf were superb, the rest of it a little tough but still flavorful and fun to chew. In fact I can't think of another vegetable so meaty in it's mouth feel. After trimming the choice cuts, I was left with a fist sized hunk of shroom too tough to eat, though I'm betting it will make a killer stock.

I've taken a break from homemade stock after feeling anxious about fuel costs while watching the stove's gas flame burn and burn, but as a Vermonter friend of mine said, "When you got wood heat, you get your stock for free." This Sunday I plan to make a small fire in the new pit with deadwood from the forest behind the house, have a great stock, and roll around in the pile of money I'll be saving.

For more of the c.o.w. in the blogosphere, check out BirdChick's post here.


Recipe: Sautéed Chicken of the Woods


Chicken of the woods mushroom, aka "sulphur shelf," one handful per person
Sea Salt
Olive oil or butter

1. Forage for a chicken of the woods mushroom. DON'T pick something deadly.

2. Soak the mushroom in warm water to remove debris. If you aren't going to use it immediately, store somewhere damp and cool (it is a mushroom, after all).

3. Blanche in salted water for five minutes, remove, press out excess water and cut into strips.

4. Sauté in olive oil or butter. Goes well with eggs or in an omelette though it is excellent on its own.

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Anonymous said...

Hi - I found you via ruhlman.

You are intriguing. In a good way : )


Anonymous said...

Hi - I found you via ruhlman.

You are intriguing. In a good way : )


Anonymous said...

Hi - I found you via ruhlman.

You are intriguing. In a good way : )


Debs said...

I found some chicken of the woods out here too, but didn't end up collecting them. It seemed like a lot of effort for a mushroom that didn't get rave reviews. The stock idea isn't bad, though, since I make stock anyway. I love mushroom broth. Let me know how yours turns out!

Food Is Love

Laura Kelley said...

Hi Aaron:

The polyporus sulphureus mushroom is one of my favorites! My Old World mum had these and other wild fungi on the table all the time.

Very simple prep with butter and salt is my personal favorite. I would suggest wiping instead of soaking to remove dirt or wood chips, or a real quick rinse to avoid the mushroom taking up too much water.

If foraging for them, look near oak trees or oak stumps, never pick them if they are already "woody" to the touch and always leave some behind to "seed" the crop for a later year.

Trevor said...

I actually saw a guy on rt two in concord SELLING his wild chicken mushrooms from a wagon. I got a laugh...

Lucille said...

Why laugh? Lots of people would love to buy this mushroom if they could find it for sale.

Lucille said...

Here's a recipe using this fungi in time for Thanksgiving. To skip the turkeys and get to the cooking, fast fwd 1:58 into the video.

Thanksgiving Dinner - Chicken of the Woods

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