Chicken of the Woods - The VIBRANT Mushroom

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The chicken of the woods mushroom can be as impressive in size as it is vibrant in it's yellow-orange colors, and has only recently made its way from the wild, into cultivation.  Often called "CoW", the chicken of the woods mushroom has a meaty taste. Some think it tastes like its chicken namesake; others describe the flavor as being more like crab or lobster. Whatever your opinion, the chicken mushroom makes a great substitute for meat in almost any dish.

Blooms:Summer through Fall

Chicken of the Woods is pleasantly firm and meaty. It’s best (and most easily digestible) to eat chicken mushrooms when they are very young and juicy. The best way to prepare it is to cut it into small pieces and cook it covered in some butter and water or broth. Let it stew for about half an hour, then season it and serve. Or add to soup. Some people like to cook it uncovered until it is almost dry, but this sometimes requires using too much butter, which disappears quickly.

Chicken of the Woods is a good source of potassium and Vitamin C. 100g of Chicken of the Woods mushrooms contain 33 calories, 6g of carbs, 3g of fiber, 14g of protein, 1g of fat, 150 mg of potassium, 10% of daily Vitamin C, and 5% of daily Vitamin A.

Chicken of the woods mushrooms get tough as they get older, so harvest them when they are younger and more tender. The outer edges of the mushroom are usually the best, but the whole mushroom is edible. People use them in lettuce wraps and deep-fried them. A favorite way to preserve chicken of the woods is to pickle it.

Chicken of the Woods mushrooms can be versatile in the kitchen. Be sure to cook thoroughly, as thicker portions of the mushroom will take longer to cook than the thinner edges. Cut into bite sized pieces or strips and sauté with wine and herbs. Bake or deep fry Chicken of the Woods mushrooms and serve with a dipping sauce. Add diced Chicken of the Woods mushrooms to soups or stews. Marinate before grilling, and if the mushroom appears to be dry, use a recipe that calls for added liquid, stock or wine.

Chicken of the Woods mushrooms are best stored cooked and frozen and do not keep for long otherwise.  Do not defrost, but use frozen. It doesn’t rehydrate well after drying.