This Chicken of the Woods recipe is a simple way to prepare a delicious wild mushroom that has the texture and flavor similar to (as you may have guessed) chicken!
Throughout summer and early fall, this tasty and abundant fungus can be found in forests throughout most of the country.
For me, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as chowing down on something that I stumbled upon during a walkabout in nature.
But literal chicken from the woods? It seems almost too good to be true.
Does This Mushroom Really Taste Like Chicken?
“Tastes like chicken” is a cliche phrase often voiced to make unusal dishes more palatable to the consumer (opossum, squirrel, alligator, etc.).
However, in the case of this mushroom, I think the phrase actually applies.
Even more than the flavor, I think the meaty, stringy texture does do justice to the mushroom’s common name.
No, it’s not really chicken…but it is really tasty.
How To Identify Chicken of the Woods
Thanks to some unique characteristics, Chicken of the Woods is a relatively easy wild mushroom to identify.
The fungus is usually very easy to spot from a distance. Look for a large, bright orange mass growing on the trunk or at the base of dying hardwood trees or on large fallen logs.
The mushroom grows in large shelves that turn from bright orange or yellow at the base to pale yellow or white at the outer edge.
The underside of the mushroom is lined with tiny pores, making it a polypore. This means that its spores are released from tiny tubes instead of gills. Neat!
- Never eat Chicken of the Woods raw. Like all wild mushrooms, always cook it well before consuming.
- Chicken of the Woods can make some people sick. If eaten in large quantities, it can give some people some gastrointestinal distress. If you’ve never eaten it before, sample just a little and wait 48 hours to see how it sits with you.
- Avoid harvesting Chicken of the Woods that is growing on conifer or eucalyptus trees. There are reports that the mushrooms absorbs toxins from these tree.
As with any foraged food, never eat anything that you can’t 100% positively identify!
How to Clean Chicken of the Woods
Start by separating the shelves of the mushrooms so you can access all the nooks and crannies.
Then use a mushroom brush to attack any large dirt particles. Afterward, wipe the mushroom totally clean with a damp cloth or paper towel.
If the mushroom is particularly dirty, I will first dunk it in a sink or large bowl full of water to get any nastiness (or creepy crawlies) off of it. Avoid soaking the mushroom for too long however, because it can easily get waterlogged.
How to Make Sautéed Chicken of the Woods
Once you have a thoroughly cleaned and dried mushroom, slice or tear it into roughly 1 inch wide pieces.
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add the mushroom pieces in a single layer.
Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they start to turn a golden brown.
Next, stir in some sliced shallot and garlic and season everything with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Cook for another 5 minutes until the shallots are tender, then pour in about 1/2 cup of dry white wine.
Simmer until most of the wine has been absorbed into the mushrooms.
Finally, stir in show fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley. Enjoy!
Sautéed Chicken of the Woods
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound tender Chicken of the Woods cleaned and sliced into 1/2' strips
- 2 shallots sliced
- 3 cloves garlic sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Spread the mushrooms out in an even layer in the skillet. Cook until the mushrooms start to slightly brown, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the shallots and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the shallot is tender, about 4-5 minutes.
- Pour in the white wine into the skillet and stir. Cook until most of the wine has been absorbed by the mushrooms, about 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon juice and parsley and enjoy!
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