Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Chickens Are Roosting

The summer mushrooms have started.Received a report from a fellow letter boxer who spotted a nice fresh sulfur shelf or chicken of the woods mushroom (Laetiporus sulphureus).
To give you an idea of the size of this one, the notebook running at the bottom is 10" long. There are no other mushrooms that look like this so it is an easily identifiable edible. Time to hit the hardwoods. Photos taken 6/1/2007 courtesy of The Happy Wanderer

The fronds can be prepared in many ways. In older specimens, only use the softer outer edges. Always cook this mushroom and never eat it raw. Also some people have an adverse allergic reaction to it, so when trying it only eat a little bit and then wait for an hour or so. If no adverse side effects (hives, etc) you should be good to go. Remember though always eat mushrooms in moderation. Eating too much of any mushroom (even morels) can be unpleasant.

For more specific information and additional pictures on the chicken of the woods check out:
For some good information on preparing and cleaning see this Hormel (of all places) glossary:
Here are a couple recipes I have found and found to be very tasty.


3 Tablespoons butter
1 cup diced Chicken of the Woods
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack or cream cheese
2 or 3 shallots, diced
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
5 or 6 eggs
1/2 cup cream or half and half
Salt and pepper

  • Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan over low heat.
  • Beat the eggs and cream, add salt and pepper to taste; pour into the pan.
  • As the eggs start to cook, sprinkle the Chicken of the Woods, cheese, shallots and parsley over the top.
  • Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more until the egg mixture sets.
  • Fold the omelet over and remove from the heat; cover and let sit for 1 minute.
(Wells, M., M. Rogers, R. Piekenbrook & D. Piekenbrook (1987). Wild Mushroom Cookery. Portland, OR: The Oregon Mycological Society. reprinted online at:

Chicken-of-the-Woods Wild Rice

The wild rice harvest is well-managed in our state, so please seek out authentic wild rice for this meal-the flavor and texture is superior to cultivated varieties. (See Resources below. See also "Wild About Ricing," July-August 2004 Conservation Volunteer.)

Chicken-of-the-woods*, also known as sulfur-shelf, is a fall-fruiting, wood-decaying fungus common to Minnesota deciduous and pine forests. Growing on both live and dead wood, this species is a lethal tree pathogen that infects trees with brown rot. However, it is edible.

As with any new food--especially a wild mushroom--wisely introduce only a small portion to your diet. Most important of all, always eat chicken-of-the-woods well-cooked, never raw. Although there is no replacement for the chickenlike texture and bright color of this wild mushroom, you may substitute another mushroom, fresh or dried and reconstituted.

2 shallots, finely minced
1/4 c. butter
2 c. chicken-of-the-woods -mushrooms, cleaned and diced
1 c. hand-harvested wild rice, raw
4 c. chicken stock
salt and pepper
1/4 c. flat parsley, finely minced

In a 5-quart pan, briefly saute shallots in 2 T. butter over medium-high heat until translucent. Add mushrooms and saute for 10 minutes. In a 4-quart saucepan, melt remaining butter, add wild rice, and saute for 5 minutes. Combine with mushroom mixture and chicken stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Uncover, fluff rice, add parsley, and if necessary continue heating on low to evaporate any remaining liquid.

*Information here is not complete for safe identification. Never collect wild mushrooms without expert knowledge.

(Recipe from Minnesota Meals of the Present: Recipes)