In this article, we will go about how to cook chicken of the woods, and all the considerations you will have to bear in mind for this type of wild mushroom.
We will give you a quick chicken of the woods recipe just in case you want to read that and go do something else.
Then we’ll delve deeper into what it is and different options to cook this delicious wild mushroom.
Table of Contents
How do you prepare the chicken of the woods?
The first thing I want to say is that it’s important to be careful when you’re eating chicken of the woods because they can easily be mistaken for other types of woods mushrooms that can be poisonous.
You really need to be sure before you take a mouthful of wild mushrooms, and I recommend getting at least 3 knowledgeable opinions about what mushroom is safe to eat if you’re not 100% sure.
The reason you should be careful is that there are other types of supposed “edible” woods mushrooms (usually people use chicken of the woods and woods mushrooms indistinctively to refer to the same mushroom) that are VERY poisonous, and it’s easy to confuse these with the non-poisonous ones.
How to cook chicken of the woods
Once you’ve identified your mushroom as being safe to eat, here’s how to cook chicken of the woods:
Chicken of the woods recipe:
1. Clean the chicken of the woods by brushing them with a dry brush to get any dirt, cobwebs, or other bits off.
2. Cut the mushroom, into bite sized chunks.
3. Wash and slice an onion and some garlic.
4. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion, mushroom, and garlic and lemon juice once it’s hot.
5. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes and then add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, season with salt and pepper and cook for another two or three minutes on medium heat until the exterior is golden brown.
6. Remove from the pan and serve immediately with some boiled rice or other accompaniment of your choice.
You can add more olive oil and lemon juice with a pinch of black pepper after the cooking or crush some garlic with black pepper using the back of a knife (optional: lemon wedges and fresh parsley).
The final dish will work as a meat substitute very similar to fried chicken.
What is chicken of the woods?
Chicken of the woods is a type of mushroom which is related to mushrooms, but it belongs to a separate group.
This different group is known as polypores and members include chicken of the woods, hen of the woods, and turkey tail.
Chicken of the woods can be used as a meat substitute. You can make a recipe like breaded chicken mushrooms, but you substitute the meat with your favorite mushrooms.
You can make chicken of the woods mushroom stock as you would make chicken stock.
Ideally, for the best texture and similarity, you would use the young chicken of the woods when cooking.
Is it safe to eat chicken of the woods?
There are many other species within this family that fall under the category of being edible and non-toxic.
Chicken of the woods is called that because it looks like chicken breast (think about a dish of fried chicken or sautéed chicken done with mushrooms instead of meat), but with a more stringy texture, and they’re also said to taste like chicken.
I’ve heard them described as having a meaty texture which makes me think they’d work well in curries or stews.
The problem some people run into is believing they are eating chicken of the woods when in reality they got another type of wild mushrooms that could be poisonous.
Chicken of the woods mushrooms is usually pale beige, tan, or grey with tiny pores.
They have a rough texture and grow in overlapping shelves which resemble their namesake.
When young they’re tender and edible even though they don’t look particularly appetizing because they start off looking kind of tattered.
How long should you cook chicken of the woods?
First, you must be aware that you should never eat chicken of the woods raw.
Cooking destroys any potential germs and breaks down heat-sensitive poisons in the fungus.
Mushrooms are a great source of B vitamins, vitamin D, and selenium, as well as other minerals.
Cooking woods mushroom breaks down their cell walls, making nutrients more readily accessible while also making the mushroom easier to eat.
If you want to err on the safe side when cooking woods mushroom:
- In reality, they should be cooked further before being fried, as they should be boiled beforehand.
- Do not use old ones or parts of one.
- Make sure your chicken of the woods is fully cooked and never consume it raw.
How do I cook dry chicken of the woods?
If your Chicken of the Woods has been in the refrigerator for a day or more, they may have dried out, making it difficult to coat as you would with a typical chicken fried steak.
Quick chicken of the woods recipe:
- Coat your mushroom in flour but do not forget to shake off the excess flour so it does not clump together.
- Put a bit of hot oil on a preheated pan and fry, medium heat. I like using peanut oil for this because it doesn’t leave any tastes behind.
- Flip when the bottom is browned to your liking. Since these are tiny, you can do 2-3 flips in one cooking cycle (about 5 minutes or so).
- When both sides are golden brown, remove from the oil and lay on paper towels.
You add the dressings and condiments you enjoy the most.
We recommend using fresh lemon juice, a bit of garlic crushed lightly, fresh parsley, and fresh ground black pepper to make a chicken of the woods recipe.
You can use a different combination, olive oil, blue cheese sauce (or parmesan cheese if the taste of blue cheese is too strong for your likings), with some lemon slices and black pepper to create a great chicken of the woods recipe.
These kinds of dishes will work extremely well as substitutes for fried chicken or sautéed chicken and you can accompany them with a green salad (if you want to go extra healthy you can use unsalted butter to avoid excess oil in your dish)
We’ve seen that you have to be careful with harvesting and identifying correctly this type of delicious wild mushroom.
It is perfectly safe to eat it with a few precautions.
There are recommendations when it comes to how to cook chicken of the woods, you can use it as a main dish and it works especially well as a meat substitute.