On a walk through the woods, food blogger Carol Blymire says, something bright orange caught her eye: chicken of the woods mushrooms -- which are different from hen of the woods mushrooms -- growing in two big clusters on a fallen tree. She and her fellow forager, blogger-cookbook author Hank Shaw, trimmed off only the mushrooms' outer rims (making the cut about an inch in), put them in a bag and took them home to cook. They gently wiped them with a clean dish towel before getting started.
The mushrooms turn an even deeper orange when they hit a hot pan, and they have a firm, chickenlike texture when cooked. Think of them as also having the flavor profile of chicken, so variations on this recipe might include sweet red vermouth and tarragon, or Marsala and thyme, instead of brandy and the greens of yard onions used here. It made the whole house smell amazing.
You should be able to find wild onions in your lawn. Allium canadense grows as an invasive weed on much of the East Coast.
Servings: 2 generous servings or 4 small servings
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 pound chicken of the woods mushrooms, cut into thin matchsticks or coarsely chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (see headnote)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup brandy or armagnac
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Small bunch of yard onion (just the green above-ground part), finely chopped (may substitute chives)
Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large, stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat. Toss in the mushrooms and the salt, stirring with a wooden spoon to coat evenly. Cook for 3 minutes; the mushrooms will darken to a deeper, almost red-orange color. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and cook for 2 minutes, making sure it has melted.
Remove from the heat, then carefully add the brandy or Armagnac, which will cause the mixture to bubble and steam.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat; cook for about 5 minutes, until the liquor has been absorbed, stirring gently once or twice with a wooden spoon.
Add the broth and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has cooked down a bit to form a slightly thickened sauce; then stir in the cream. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring as needed.
Divide among individual plates, garnished with the onion greens.
Adapted by Hank Shaw and Takoma Park food blogger Carol Blymire, from Shaw's "Hunt, Gather, Cook" (Rodale, 2011).
Tested by Carol Blymire.
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