Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Wild Mushrooms for Dinner: Chicken Mushroom Paprikas

Here we have a chicken mushroom paprikas, a traditional Hungarian dish with a tomato base, lots of paprika, onions, garlic, and some sweet peppers. Robert made some fresh nokedli dumplings and served it all with some lacto-fermented pickles on the side for a sour zing.

Very young yellow chicken

Chicken mushrooms (Laetiporus sulphureus) are often on our dinner menu, one of the most versatile wild mushrooms to cook with. They can be found in the spring, summer, and autumn. It's not so much that they taste like chicken, but their firm texture can mimic chicken perfectly, if it is collected at the right stage. Don't be fooled and collect it if it is too dry and old--then you will be eating sawdust, and no amount of cooking can tenderize it. You want the fronds to be thick and oozing juices when you cut them, you want the colors to be bright. Excess chicken stores well if sauteed first then frozen in containers or vacuum packed. It doesn't dry then re-hydrate well, again there is the sawdust factor unless you plan on powdering it as a seasoning. There are two species of chicken mushroom in our area, the yellow chicken, Laetiporus sulphureus, and the white chicken, Laetiporus cincinnatus. The yellow chicken is a heartwood rotter, so you will often find it anywhere on the trunk of a standing or dead and fallen tree. It is bright orange on the top of the fronds, and the pore surface in the underside is bright yellow when fresh. The white chicken is a butt wood rotter, so it will be found at the base of a dying tree, or even out in the yard away from a tree but still attached to the roots or hidden wood. The top of the fronds are a peachy color while the pore surface on the underside of the fronds is white. Most people claim the flavor and texture of the white chicken is superior the the yellow chicken, and it does seem to be more tender. Both should be collected when young and fresh.

Some white chickens cut from a stump

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