Tag Archives: Chicken of the Woods

Wild About My Dinner…

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I love my wife for more reasons than I can count..

She puts up with me skinning and butchering critters on the front porch, even though she is a vegetarian/animal lover. She doesn’t mind the goldenrod and mint hanging from the curtain rods to dry out in the living room right now. Sometimes, she kindly reminds me that I need to hit the showers after a few days running around in the woods. This week, when I came home with a couple squirrels and some foraged edibles, she broke out her culinary prowess for a delicious wild meal.

I am probably butchering the description, but the above is honey and balsamic glazed squirrel on a bed of wilted chickweed and chicken of the woods mushrooms. The side is jerusalem artichoke and evening primrose “mashed potatoes”.

Truth be told, my foraging has picked up tenfold since I met her. My lack of kitchen skills had led me down the path of a meat and cereal diet for a few years until she rescued me. I still eat plenty of meat, but my diet is more varied now and it has opened up a new level for foraging.

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Desert… Two days ago, I had gathered forty pounds of pears from a “feral” tree growing wild by the lake and used my frog gig to knock down some persimmons that were out of reach. Freezing the pears and persimmons, she broke out the Vita-mix , some coconut sugar, and added some frozen pawpaws to make a sorbet topped with candied black walnuts for another home run. The walnuts by themselves would be a treat.

So thanks to my wife for a great “wild” meal and for everything she does for me.

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I ran out of bags to fill from this tree!!

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Pollo del Bosque…

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is what happens to Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) when my wife makes a burrito bowl from my harvest. Great flavor, easily identified, and prolific when found, more info can be found here:   http://www.mushroomexpert.com/laetiporus_sulphureus.html

In my opinion, it is all about risk vs. reward when it comes to mushrooms. In the calorie department, mushrooms don’t have a lot to offer, weighing in at around 20 kcal per cup. That same cup will offer some protein and vitamins/minerals.

The risk? If you misidentify a mushroom, it could be fatal. Your best plan of action is to take a class, get some good field guides, and make friends with some experienced mushroom hunters/experts. 

Risk = possible poisoning/death   vs.    Reward = A handful of calories, some nutrients, and a whole lot of taste

In a hypothetical survival situation, I would only eat mushrooms that I regularly dined upon. Dehydration, lack of sleep, and hunger could lead to poor decision making, so play it safe, study them now or don’t even go down that path.

Fortunately, there are a half dozen or so that are relatively unmistakable, Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) being one of them.

Identification:

1. Clusters of overlapping, orange shelves with a yellow rim.  On older, stiffer mushrooms I have cut off only the flexible yellow rim. Yellow underneath (note pic).

2. Grows on trees, not on the ground. There is no stem and the shelf attaches directly to the wood.

3. No gills. It is in the Polypore family, so technically it has tons of tiny holes in the bottom, but you can’t see them without a magnifying glass.

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A long time ago, in a far off camp, a good friend and I dined on this mushroom and relished it’s flavor. For me, this mushroom reminds me of simpler times that beckon my return.