Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner! (Foraged Mushrooms)

“Eww…what’s that??”

Uh oh. This was going to be a hard sell.

Let me preface with this: one of my hobbies is hunting wild mushrooms. Well, I suppose it’s less of a hunt and more of a gather. 

This is considered somewhat of a weird hobby to most Americans, but according to the residents of the little Appalachian town in which I live, obtaining at least half of your food from the forest is not at all an uncommon practice. 

There is free food outside, people! It’s all over the place! You just have to know what the edible stuff looks like and you can eat it. It’s amazing.

My boyfriend, however, is like most Americans when it comes to mushrooms--though to his credit, he has come to politely tolerate my hobby. 

He can successfully identify the grocery-store varieties, but remains suspicious of my outdoor finds.

I plop a 4-pound bag of flabby orange fungus down on the kitchen counter. “Dinner!” I said.  

People are scared of wild mushrooms, because they don't know enough about them to safely identify them. They see one and think that if they eat it, they will probably die, or at very least, it’s gonna be nasty. But plenty of those exotic gourmet mushrooms you hear about at expensive restaurants or occasionally glimpse at the farmer’s market or fancy section of the grocery store are, in fact, (gasp!) wild. As in, came from outside. In the woods. Picked by someone wandering around with a basket and possibly (seriously) a trained sniffer-pig.  And you may have already eaten one…without even knowing it! (DUN dun…DUUUNNNN!!!!)

The reason for this is because many delicious gourmet mushrooms can’t be effectively cultivated. Some have what is known in mushroom nerd-language as a “mycorrhizal association” with specific trees—essentially a symbiotic relationship with the tree’s root system. 

Some are parasitic and must squeeze the last living breath from their host tree and feast on its remains in order to recycle it into sweet, sweet deliciousness for your dining pleasure. 

Many are waaay too much of a production to cultivate yet plentiful enough in nature that buying them from the dude with the basket is much more plausible, practical, and cost-effective. The good news is that you too can get your own delicious wild gourmet mushrooms, with no cost to you!

Meet the Chicken-of-the-Woods Mushroom (that’s Laetiporus sulphureus to you, bub). 

This is the best noob-mushroom ever, because it’s practically unmistakable and has no poisonous look-alikes.* 

It’s big, bright freakin’ orange with yellow or sometimes white pores (rather than gills) on the underside, and grows in huge shelf-like stacks on hardwood (almost always oak) trees in Eastern North America in the fall. 

You can usually see it from halfway across the woods, because its size and color make it really difficult to miss. 

It’s called “Chicken-of-the-Woods” because it tastes like…you guessed it…chicken. It’s got a meaty texture and even the “stringiness” of chicken breast. You can pretty much cook it in any manner that you can cook chicken. And like chicken breast, it’s a bit bland and needs a little seasoning.  It has officially become the BF’s new favorite mushroom. Success!

*On the Western portion of the continent and in the Great Lakes region, there are other types of “Chicken-of-the-Woods” that grow on conifers and eucalyptus trees. These have been associated with sometimes causing gastric upset (as in, unpleasant amounts of time spent in the bathroom hugging the bowl) in sensitive people, especially when consumed raw or undercooked. It’s uncertain why; most people eat it with impunity. 

Only eat young, tender, brightly colored Chicken-of-the-Woods, and cook your mushrooms thoroughly. Trying a small amount at first to see if it agrees with you before scarfing a huge plateful is always wise practice when it comes to any foraging, especially for mushrooms

So today, we’re making vegetarian Chicken-of-the-Woods Thai Green Curry.  

Chicken-Of-The-Woods Thai Green Curry

For two generous servings, you need:

Mmm…mysterious greenish paste...
2 c sliced Chicken-of-the-Woods mushrooms
2 c sliced mixed stir-fry vegetables of your choice (bell peppers, broccoli, onions, etc.)
2-4 tbsp of Thai green curry paste (look in the “international” aisle)
1 15 oz. can of coconut milk
1 green chili, minced (adjust to taste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Cooking oil or butter for frying
Vegetable or chicken broth for deglazing the pan
Chopped Thai basil, if desired
Salt & pepper to taste
2 c hot cooked rice

1. Sauté the mushrooms in butter or oil until browned. Don’t overdo it on the grease; this mushroom will suck it up readily like a sponge. Deglaze the pan with broth and set aside.

2. Saute the vegetables in butter or oil until crisp-tender.

3. Add chili, garlic, and ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes more.

4. Add the curry paste and lime juice and stir to coat.  

5. Stir in coconut milk thoroughly. Add cilantro and Thai basil and simmer for 5 minutes. Correct the seasoning. Add the “chicken” back to the pan and simmer for 2-3 minutes more, until hot. Serve over hot cooked rice. Done!

Enjoy this delicious meal, and the well-earned sense of satisfaction that comes from sucessfully foraging for your own dinner!

Featured by:

Shared with:


  1. I've gone hunting for morels, but I've always wanted to learn more about wild mushroom hunting. Thanks for the info. The curry looks amazing:)

  2. Such wonderful healthy ingredients and sounds quite tasty. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays. Pinned & twitted.

  3. Wow looks so vibrant and tasty! Thanks for linking up to #tastytuesdays

  4. G'day! Thanks for sharing at our #SayGdayParty! Please make sure to revisit if you haven't already and say G'day to the hosts and someone else at the party! Cheers! Joanne @ What's On The List Pinned

  5. Looks delicious, Love to try this, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop. pinning.

  6. Perfect curry! I love mushrooms! Thanks for coming and linking up at The Weekend Social. All posts get pinned in our pinterest board! Please be sure to come back next week starting Thursdays at 9PM EST on culinaryflavors.gr ! I hope to see you there!

  7. What a great dish, this looks delicious. Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing your great post with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  8. Well, this is just a mouthwatering recipe which will be used soon. Your Chicken of the woods Thai green curry looks and sounds so good. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  9. Thank you for linking up at the Sparkles of Inspiration link up party! This amazing recipe has been featured on at the party! I so want to go foraging for mushrooms now and cook this!!!!