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Crispy Fried Chicken Of The Woods

As we're coming into late spring, one of the great edible mushrooms you might start to find is chicken of the woods (Laetiporus sulphureus), growing on deciduous trees like oak, cherry, poplar or beech. As its common name suggests, this mushroom can be used in the place of chicken in many recipes, though some claim it tastes more like lobster. Though chicken of the woods can be found up until early autumn, they're best when they're young and small—older larger specimens can be quite tough and woody.


Forager’s safety note—don’t eat anything you’re not 100% sure is edible. Chicken of the woods can also grow on evergreen trees, or be mistaken for other inedible mushrooms that grow on them, on so avoid eating if you find it growing on anything that stays green all year round. On yew (Taxus spp.) in particular, chicken of the woods can accumulate the taxane toxins from the tree itself.




This recipe works well with young fresh chicken of the woods that still feels soft and rubbery. If the mushrooms you’ve foraged are at all tough or have spent a while in your fridge, then you might want to save your chicken of the woods for soups and stew instead!


Ingredients 

  • A good double handful of fresh young chicken of the woods, or roughly 400 g. You’ll make extra batter and flour, so don’t worry about exact quantities.

  • Sunflower/olive oil for frying


For the batter

  • 3 tbsp cornflour

  • 3 tbsp regular flour

  • 200 ml water or dairy free milk


For the seasoned flour/breadcrumb mix

  • A cup of flour (you could also use breadcrumbs or fine cornmeal)

  • 1 tsp onion granules

  • 1 tsp garlic granules

  • 1 tsp dried thyme

  • 1 tsp salt

  • A dash of cayenne pepper


Method

  1. Clean your chicken of the woods to remove any dirt, and cut away any tough bits (typically towards the base of the mushroom).

  2. Slice your mushroom horizontally into wide pieces no thicker than 1 cm.

  3. Give your slices a quick wash under the tap for a final clean.

  4. Whisk the batter ingredients together and pour over the mushroom slices in a shallow dish.

  5. Mix the seasoned flour/breadcrumb ingredients and sprinkle in an even layer in a shallow tray or large plate.

  6. Lift the mushroom slices out and arrange in the tray of flour, pushing them down gently to get an even coating. Flip the pieces over and do the same on the other side, then gently shake the pan to settle the flour into any remaining gaps. Set aside while you heat up your oil.

  7. Pour a tin layer of oil, no less than half the thickness of your slices, into a heavy skillet.

  8. Heat the oil until hot enough to fry. You can test this by breaking off a tiny chunk from your mushroom slices and tossing it into the pan - if it sizzles, you’re ready!

  9. Fry the mushrooms in small batches, turning halfway through and draining the cooked pieces in a colander or sieve as you cook the rest.


Serve with a squeeze of lemon or some freshly chopped herbs. You could also serve with hot sauce or mayonnaise, but these taste great with minimal extras! 

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