Chicken of the Woods... a tasty find and potential for propagation...
Chicken of the Woods
I made a great find earlier today, although it was admittedly not in our own woodland. While driving to my parents house I spotted, from the car window, doing 40 miles per hour, a beautiful "Chicken of the Woods" fungus.
This is one of the few fungii that I feel confident identifying as it is pretty unmistakable and has no poisonous look-a-likes. It is remarkable as it has a texture and, some say flavour, a lot like chicken.
WARNING - Do not attempt to eat any mushroom you find in the wild without first consulting an expert, or at the very least a good field guide. Many fungi have deadly poisonous look-a-likes, including the common field mushrooms
It varies in colour from bright yellow through to browny-orange, and the younger more brightly coloured specimens are the best to eat. The texture feels rubbery and smooth, and the lower surface has no gills. Instead it has microscopic pores on the underside to help it shed it's spores.
A Lovely Chicken Dinner
To cut a long story short I picked this one and cooked it up for dinner. My off the cuff recipe was
- approx 500g of chopped "Chicken of the Woods"
- 1/3rd of a bar of butter
- A fairly generous pinch of sea salt
- A heaped teaspoon of paprika
- Some milk
I know the usual approach would be to include some onions or garlic, but I'm
badly restricted by a food intolerance.
I fried up the mushroom with the butter, salt and paprika until it started to soften and release moisture (around 5 minutes in). At which point I added the milk and kind of poached it for another five minutes or so. The result was delicious, eaten with mashed potatoes and cheese, but could just as easily been served over toast.
A few words of warning
While the chicken of the woods fungus is, in my recent experience, lovely some individuals have been known to have adverse reactions to it. Eat only a small amount for your first time.
Also, the fungus is known to fruit year after year from the same spot, provided the organism within the tree isn't damaged, hence it is recommended to CUT the body away from the stump, leaving some flesh still in place.
A a final thought for the day...
It is supposedly possibly to cultivate "Chicken of the Woods", along with other fungi using spawn to inoculate logs and tree stumps. Spawn can be cloned from wild fungi, by simply chopping pieces of the stalk of the mushroom you are interested in and then giving it a nice moist home in either some cardboard or sawdust.
I'm going to see if I can get anywhere with the ends of the fungi I picked today, with a view to getting some logs going out in our own woods.