Recently had a chance to do a bit of foraging in the Okanogan Highands when a friend mentioned finding a very bright, very large orange fungus growing on a stump. I guessed immediately she was referring to Chicken-of-the-woods, thanks to my neighbor Sue. Laetiporus is a genus of edible mushrooms found throughout much of the world. Some species, are commonly known as chicken of the woods, the chicken mushroom, or the chicken fungus because of texture and taste like chicken. Here's a visual on how I like to prepare them.
Fortunately there are no look-a-likes to this unique edible fungus.
Individual "shelves" range 2"-10" inches across and are made up of many tiny tubular filaments. The mushroom grows in large brackets - some have been found that weigh over 100 pounds. It is most commonly found on wounds of trees, mostly oak, though it is also frequently found on yew, and willow, as well as conifers in some species. This one was found on a Douglas fir stump.
I separate the plates while harvesting, selecting only the soft, pliable portions of the mushroom. Once in the kitchen wash in cold water to remove any debris.
Slice the mushroom into long pieces, somewhat like French fries, and place them in a pan to be covered with your favorite marinate.
Cover with marinate and spices, fresh garlic works great. Cover with a wax style paper and set in fridge or on these cool autumn days, on the deck table is what I did. Let them soak up the marinate for a few hours.
I used a medium sized wok over very high heat to prep the olive oil. Once the oil was ready I added enough of the mushroom to cover the bottom of the pan. As one batch was ready I shifted them to an open baking pan and grilled them until the edges were crisp. Heated up the kitchen sautéing and grilling at the same time.
Once the mushrooms were ready I put the portion to be served back into the wok, to hold the heat and sprinkled a hard Italian cheese over the top. Whip up a sauce for a dip and your ready to go.
This dish compliments most autumn food, baked beans, baked squash, etc, but my favorite was to serve is with fresh venison steaks. Bon appetite!
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