• The Wild Foodie

Chicken of the Woods

Updated: May 2, 2019

Ahhh.. The Chicken of the Woods. Now isn't this an interesting mushroom. Chicken of the Woods or Laetiporus Sulphureus is a bright yellow, sometimes orange mushroom that loves to grow on Oaks. Chicken of the Woods is edible and as its name suggests can be used in many recipes as a replacement to chicken. Some say that it also has a similar taste to chicken, although I find it a bit more mushroomy than chicken like.

Chicken of the Woods Identification Look alikes Recipe
Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the Woods also goes by many other names, if you read my posts regularly you will know that so many wild foods have a huge list of names. Other names include; Sulphur Shelf, the Chicken Mushroom and Chicken Fungus. Its season is anytime from late Spring to Autumn but it is really easy to find after a summer storm or two.

This fungus can grow remarkably big, sometimes up to half a metre across and where there is one there is usually a lot. Particularly if the tree, usually an Oak is on its way out. Huge clusters or brackets of Chicken of the Woods can be found together.

When harvesting this delicious mushroom make sure that you take only the youngest specimens, they are far more tender and soft. Also, you don't have to take the whole thing. Cut of the freshest growth with a sharp knife, the brightest most unspoilt yellow sections. They are really good.

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Where do you find Chicken of the Woods? Well, the Chicken of the Woods is a Woodland mushroom - as the name suggests. It needs the moisture and protection provided by the trees and of course it needs the trees to grow on. But it does sometimes stray a little farther from the woods again, seeking out old Oak trees.

Velvet Top Fungus Chicken of the Woods look alikes
Velvet Top Fungus

The Chicken of the Woods does have a 'sort of' Look alike in the Velvet-Top Fungus (see picture). Younger specimens of the Velvet-top Fungus are sometimes yellow or orange and bare some resemblance to the Chicken of the Woods. This mushroom is not poisonous, but nor is it edible and I am told that it is quite horrible to eat.

So onto the eating.. Well, there is a few things that you need to know here. Firstly, the Chicken of the Woods does sometimes grow on Yew trees. Unfortunately this makes them toxic, so stick to fungus found on Oaks or Sweet Chestnuts. Also, you can not eat this mushroom raw. It has to be cooked and thoroughly cooked at that. Be aware, that some people will have a natural intolerance to Chicken of the Woods. Unfortunately you'll only find this out upon eating the mushroom. Largely, most people are ok.

Learn more about the Chanterelle and false Chanterelle here.

When it comes to eating this mushroom, I have a very simple and delicious recipe. It is best sauteed and simply cooked. Now, the Chicken of the Woods is quiet a dry mushroom. As we know it needs to be cooked well in order to safely consume it. So the solution is very simple. I like to fry the mushroom in a lot of butter!! I cut my Chicken of the Woods into sections about the width of two fingers as long as the piece of mushroom you have. Get a little colour on the mushrooms first and then add some seasoning and a little fresh Thyme alongside a splash of water. You'll want to cook them for at least 10 minutes. Make sure that the water has evaporated and then stack the sections on a thick slice of sourdough toast. Lap the herby butter over the mushrooms and devour.

The Chicken of the Woods is an excellent eating mushroom and really common too. During your next woodland walk keep an eye out for it. You may find this one easier than you think.

Remember. Never eat Wild Mushrooms that have not been 100% positively identified as edible. Wild Mushrooms can be toxic and even fatal. Always forage safely and sustainably.

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