Mushrooms are magic!
My First Chicken
We had randomly decided to explore a new area and might not have returned were it not to observe the Mugwort and mystery plant, waiting for the flowers to give more information.
But return, we did, less than a week later. There were no sign of flowers yet but we decided to drive around and explore further….
Tastes Like Chicken?
I cleaned and trimmed the mushroom and cut into slices. As this was my first experience of this mushroom, I didn’t know, until later, that it was a very dry specimen, due probably to the lack of rain.
As with many wild mushrooms, it’s important to cook it thoroughly. I treated it as I would most mushroom, by sautéing it first and then adding my other ingredients and the sauce. Usually, I want to reduce the liquid content of a mushroom but with hindsight I realise this mushroom had almost no liquid content and so a different approach (of adding liquid) would have worked better.
As a vegetarian of several years, I was excited to emulate some of my old favourites using the mushroom as a substitute for chicken…. I thought I would make a creamy chicken and mushroom sauce, though it did occur to me that it was actually a mushroom and mushroom sauce! 😄
I added garlic, white wine and oat cream. Using the last few leaves of wild garlic as a garnish and adding the flavourful green seed pods for flavour.
Served with Mashed Potato, Nettles and Fresh Veg.
It was tasty but the texture was a bit tough.
Another great thing about this mushroom is that it’s plentiful! I’d only taken a third of it but I had enough to make several meals and dry some for later.
I made a Creamy Pasta with Broccoli and then a Soup with Nettle, Potato, Carrot Onion and Fresh Herbs.
My Second Chicken
As I mentioned before, my mother was a little envious of my find, I had of course, gifted her some of the dried mushroom to try but a few weeks later, we met up to celebrate my birthday.
We decided to go for a walk and of course, I was secretly hoping we might find one together… But that would be highly unlikely!
We had just had one of the driest Spring seasons I can remember, so of course, on my birthday, which falls close to the Summer Solstice, we had about a months worth of rain!
Everything was very soggy… I spotted a broken Willow Tree and gazed at it hopefully… There was a mushroom of some kind, could it… no, surely not… YES! I’d found another one!! 😀
It was definitely past it’s best, in fact, there were several of them around the tree, some decayed beyond use and turning green with mould but not to be deterred, I managed to cut a reasonably fresh piece to take with us.
Away from my kitchen’s potions and powders, I simply fried in butter on my little gas stove and seasoned with salt and pepper. The texture was noteably different from my first one, dry but not as tough.
My Third Chicken
It was only four days later, whilst foraging for Bilberries and Rosebay Willowherb that I unexpectedly came across my third (and best) Chicken of the Woods.
Something had compelled me to walk a little way up a path in the opposite direction to where I was headed, and there, on a dead tree stump, sparkling in a ray of sunshine, was the most beautiful specimen I had encountered yet!
It Really Is Like Chicken!
After the Beefsteak Mushroom, which though resembling raw meat, is nothing like meat! I had curbed my enthusiasm for the Chicken of the woods and so hadn’t been too disappointed, but this time, I learned why this is such a popular mushroom! It was juicy and tender and the texture and appearance was uncannily like cooked chicken meat!
Vegetarian Chicken Soup
I made a soup, adding the tender flower buds left over from making Ivan Chai with the Rosebay Willowherb.
I offered a spoonful to my neighbour to try… “mmmm…oh my god!” He looked at me doubtfully and said, “I’m not sure you’re going to like this, it’s very meaty.” I laughed, I stopped eating meat, not because I stopped enjoying it but because I could no longer, in good conscience, support our abhorrent meat industry. Quietly foraging a mushroom on a sunny day in the woods is a far cry from the horrors of industrial poultry farming…
So pass me a spoon!!
It was Amazing!!
This might even be my favourite edible mushroom so far. But there are still so many I have yet to try…
Thanks for reading!
Leave a Comment below, let me know what you think or share your own experiences with this mushroom.