Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tastes Like Chicken?

The forms and colors of mushrooms are diverse, but few approach the attractiveness of chicken of the woods mushroom, Laetiporus sulphureus.

This beauty represents about one-quarter of the two-and-a-half-pound specimen offered by Happy Cat at the Headhouse Square Farmers' Market today, which was being sold for $17/pound, a fair price for a delectable fungus. I plan to simply sauteé it with some shallot tonight (finishing with a bit of wine, since this variety does tend to dry out).
Chicken of the woods is a shelf mushroom found growing on the trunks of hardwood trees in the Northeast U.S. When young, like this one, the top is a neon orange, the underside a bright, clean yellow. It's perfectly edible for most folks, although the rare person may find it causes a mild reaction (perhaps swollen lips, nausea, dizziness, etc.), so try a little first before digging into a larger portion.

The variety is a polypore, i.e., it doesn't have gills but instead features pores on the underside.

Don't confuse it with hen of the woods, a.k.a. maitake, a completely different mushroom. 

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