Chicken of the Woods Mushroom In Depth Guide (With 2 Vegan Recipes)
Chicken of the woods is a really great mushroom. It is one of the larger mass mushrooms so it can make a good size meal, feed a lot of people, or have leftovers to dehydrate or preserve. This is also one of the easiest mushrooms to identify, perfect for beginners. The texture is very chicken like, I don’t eat chicken tho. I really appreciate the abundant growth and nutrition of the mushroom. It is definitely a good one to look for. It grows many different places. Ive seen it on the West Coast, Ohio, Pennsylvania. I read it even grows in Hawaii.
This mushroom is pretty east to identify, probably one of the easiest to identify. It was one of the first few wild mushrooms I ate. These are the scientific names of the common species of chicken of the woods.
These are the two main species:
- Laetiporus cincinnatus
- Laetiporus sulphureus
These are also chicken of the woods, but slightly different genetics. They are typically edible, with some cases of gastrointestinal upset, so try a little at first.
- Laetiporus huroniensis
- Laetiporus conifericola
- Laetiporus gilbertsonii
One of the main identifying features of the mushroom is its bright yellow orange color. There are some that are paler orange and sometimes slightly cream. If you see the bright orange and yellow it is more of a guarantee. It usually grows in overlapping or singular shelves. When is it young, it can look like yellow foam on the tree, but over time will grow out into the shelves. The bottom of the mushrooms must definitely have pores. The pores are yellow to white depending on the exact variety and environment.
For more in depth video about identifying chicken of the woods, I would highly recommend learnyourland.com, or looking at his videos on youtube about chicken of the woods.
Look Alike Mushrooms
Some potential look alike could be:
- Cinnabar Polypore – Pycnoporus Cunnabarinus
- Velvet Top/ Dyer’s Polypore – Plaeolus Schweinitzi
- Berkley’s Polypore – Bondarzewia Berkeleyi
- Jack O’ Lantern – Omphalotus Illudens
The recipes below are just starting points for other dishes. This mushroom has a lot of potential. It could be grilled, breaded, powdered, made into a broth, or so may things.
Basic Chicken of the Woods Recipe
This recipe is made with wild foraged chicken of the woods. The one I used in this recipe was very very young. I picked it because the day before there were two and when I went back the next day someone had picked one of them, even tho it was very small. I didn’t want to chance it because id been looking for it all summer, so I picked it instead of letting it grow. It was in an exposed area. I have also used past prime and older chicken of the woods and it came out fine as well. The best time to eat it is somewhere between what I used today and what I’ve used before, I just don’t find them at the right time. It is okay to use as long as its not too leathery or chewy which happens if it is very old.
This is one of simplest way to cook it. All you need is a pan, some oil, and if you want salt, pepper, of a few spices. When cooking with oil or frying it is always best to use a high heat oil so it doesn’t burn and become carcinogenic. Avocado and Grapeseed oil are some of the healthiest high heat oils. Oils like olive oil start to smoke when they reach a certain temperature and transform into a more carcinogenic molecule, these oils are best for using fresh like a salad or on bread.
- Brush the mushroom clean, I use a tooth brush, you can rinse it or soak if briefly if it is very dirty, but it is best to minimize water in the cleaning stage.
- Chop off the areas of the mushroom that are too firm. These are the parts closest to where it grew from the tree. The most tender areas are either the fresh young growth, or the 1-2 inch edges of the older mushrooms. You will have to see what works based on the age of the mushrooms that you found and what texture you like to eat. I don’t like it too chewy because im vegan, the texture is too chickeny for me when it is firm.
- Either shred the mushroom by hand into pieces the size you want, or you can cut it with a knife into strips, cubes, or whatever you like.
- Heat some high smoke point oil in a pan and toss in the mushrooms when the oil has heated up.
- Add some salt or any spices you like.
- Let the mushrooms cook on each side until the color changes and it looks like it has a good searing on the outside
- Sometimes I add in a little water to the pan and cover it to let the mushrooms steam for a few minutes. I have had both with and without water. Water can help to tenderize older mushrooms, it is good if you found some that are little too old and you want to try to use them anyway. Thats what I did before and it came out fine. If you do this make sure to cook all the water off and to let it let cook with oil for a few minutes to make sure its not soggy and still has a good texture on the outside. You could try adding the water in the beginning, cooking it off completely. Then stir frying in the oil.
This will just describe cooking the mushrooms, onions, and peppers. You can add other taco fillers like salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, or other. I added cauliflower rice that I cooked with cilantro and lime, it is easy to make from a head of cauliflower with a larger hole grater/shredder.
- Chicken of the Woods
- Avocado Oil(or other high temp oil)
- Agave or Honey
- Optional: Chipotle or Cayenne Pepper
- Prep Ingredients. With the mushroom brush or wash it clean. Then shred it with fingers or cut with a knife into strips or bits. Chop some onion and pepper. I like to make them both thin strips.
- They can be cooked separately or together. If doing it together make sure the mushrooms are partially cooked before adding the peppers and onions.
- Heat a pan with avocado oil, when pan is hot add the mushrooms.
- Let is cook for a few mins on Medium-High temp then stir.
- You can add the onions and peppers in now if you want, after they mushrooms are cooked a little already. If you add them, then wait a little more before adding the spices.
- When the mushrooms have cooked add the spices cumin, paprika, oregano, salt, pepper, agave/honey, and if you like spicy pepper. You can substitute the spices for taco seasoning. I make it like this because many store made taco seasonings have added maltodextrin, palm oil, and or white sugar.
- Optional: Add water but not too much, cover the pan and let steam for a few minutes. Remove the lid and cook the water off completely. You can add a little oil and cook longer after if it looks like it needs a bit more stir frying but it may not need it.
- The mushrooms are done when it looks like they have changed into a more roasted color with some deeper oranges, golds, and browns