09 October 2008
Chicken of the woods
Chicken of the woods. Really a sulphur shelf mushroom that grows wild in the woods. Cindy and Chris at Cub Creek Farms collected a 50lb one the other week and had a whole bunch at their market stand. Cindy was shocked that I'd never used the mushroom before, being a vegetarian. She seemed to think it was part of the rules, but having not lived in the woods since childhood (and we didn't hunt mushrooms!) and not really shopping at farmer's markets while living in D.C., this is my first foray into this delicacy. The only rule with this mushroom is that you need to cook before consuming (luckily I don't like raw mushrooms anyway).
Well, I'd have to admit that cutting into this weird-looking mushroom did remind me of cutting into a dry chicken breast - very flaky and the "meat" did have that grainy look I think I remember from my poultry-eating days. I think I've said it before, but I'm not one of those vegetarians who actually likes fake meat (well, I do like fake bacon because, as Krissy and T can attest, I used to love bacon - especially Papa's - nice and crispy). Anyway, I had prepared myself to not like the chicken of the woods mushroom due to the fact that it was supposed to taste like chicken. I am not sure I remember the taste of chicken but this mushroom was pretty light and relatively bland in my opinion. On the positive side, it certainly doesn't taste 'mushroomy', but on the other hand it doesn't really taste 'mushroomy' if you know what I mean.
My 'chicken' went into a simple quesadilla: I sauteed it with corn and black beans and a touch of enchilada sauce. I placed the mixture with a little sprinkle of cheddar cheese between two wheat tortillas it on my wonderful Santa Fe Quesadilla Maker that I received as a gift a couple of Christmases ago and must admit use pretty often. Nothing could be simpler - like a George Foreman grill for tortillas and filling. Pretty yummy and very easy. I have a few more pieces of the mushroom left and now need to decide my next recipe. I've definitely been inspired.