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Chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) is an edible bracket fungi found growing on dead or dying trees in most of the northern hemisphere. The mushroom is aptly named, as fresh specimens resemble the flavour and texture of chicken when cooked!
Chicken of the woods (COW) is a great mushroom for beginner foragers since there are no toxic look-a-likes. Still, one must exercise great caution when foraging for and eating wild mushrooms. Always use several sources to properly identify wild mushrooms and be 100% sure of them before eating. Even non-toxic mushrooms like COW can interact poorly with some digestive systems, so start off by eating only a small amount and always be sure to cook wild mushrooms all of the way through!
The best way to get started in foraging is to find a mentor, or join your local mycological society.
COW can generally be found in late summer and early autumn. Make sure you keep your eye out for them when you’re starting to scout for deer and duck hunting.
After finding a big, beautiful specimen, I decided that I would blanch and freeze most of it, saving it for future recipes in the winter when I wouldn’t have access to so many mushrooms.
I kept a few pieces aside to make myself and my partner a nice lunch. Since COW can taste and feel a lot like chicken, I decided to make a wild play on a much-loved chicken Caesar salad, swapping the chicken out for mushrooms.
The end product was absolutely delicious and would be a great way to gently introduce this wild mushroom to someone who hasn’t tried them before.
Serves: 2 for a lunch and 4 as a side
Also make with: chicken, grouse
Time to make: 40 minutes
Looking for more wild mushroom recipes? Check out these fried oyster mushroom tacos!
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