Though we are reaching the end of the season for these beauties, I thought it might be nice to do a brief post about chicken of the woods mushrooms and how to cook them. They are a great fall treat that can be treated as a chicken substitute, and are a great source of protein with 14g of protein per serving.
Chicken of the woods mushrooms are usually foraged, and can be found growing on the barks of various trees, living or dead, in eastern North America. They grow in large clusters, from the late summer through the fall. The bright colors of the mushroom may lead you to think they is poisonous, but they are actually very safe (and delicious) to eat.
You can purchase chicken of the woods at farmers’ markets directly through the farmer/forager, or if you’re lucky, at a specialty grocery store. To cook them, treat them like you would if cooking something with the texture of chicken. These mushrooms will not release a lot of water when they cook, and will dry out and be tough and chewy if you overcook them. I’ve found that soaking them in a marinade or boiling them in a flavored stock before sauteing or frying them works best.
You can cut them into strips and throw into pasta, use in stir-frys, or batter and deep fry them in large cutlets.
Below is a recipe from when I battered and deep-fried them as part of a larger meal.
First, marinade your mushrooms in vegetable stock with some tamari, salt, and pepper for at least half an hour and up to 4 hours.
To make the batter, you need a dry mix and a wet mix. Here is one that I’ve adapted from Lauren Ulm’s recipe for country-fried seitan in Vegan Yum Yum.
Vegan Chicken of the Woods Fried Steak
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons Old Bay or chili/creole seasoning mix
4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup of the dry mix from above
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon mustard
Once your frying oil is preheated, dip the mushrooms in the wet mix, then toss in the dry to coat. Fry until the batter starts to turn a golden brown, then let cool, and eat. Here, I served my deep fried chicken of the woods smothered in gravy with a root vegetable mash and garlic sauteed kale on the side. Wash it down with some hard cider!
Also by Maddy: Vegan Baking Tips – How to Choose Sweeteners
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Photo: Maddy Strassler