Monday, September 14, 2009

The hunt and capture of the chicken of the woods





Top 2 images are first day; bottom is next day.

Found this sitting there under a tree in a park, minding its own business (as far as I could tell).  This very choice edible, this Laetiporus cincinnatus ("chicken of the woods"). Ran home to get positive ID (this is kind of funny now, as it is considered one of the easiest for beginners to ID. Now I would know in one second, but this really was in the very first month of my mushroom fascination, and the first one I'd ever seen). Positively identified it, it was quite a young specimen, went back the next day to nab it (after hardly being able to sleep, worrying that someone else would find it) and I was horrified to find the park swarming with hundreds of people for some event, was sure someone would have messed with it.  But I could see this sucker from the parking lot, because it was so big, and so luminous. I snuck up on it and cut it. I don't understand why no one else seemed to have seen it, or kicked it, or picked it. I've got a picture of it from about 200' away, looking like a plastic milk bottle or a grocery bag in the distance.

As they get older they start to flare out into more shelf-like fans, and they get dry and woody, so you can really only eat the outer edges. Not my problem.

Although it seemed to be growing from the grass, it was actually attached to an underground root; these always grow on wood (not logs--trees with some life still in them).

Sauteed, not mushroomy at all, a completely new flavor. Great meaty texture.

Risotto w/ mushroom & gorgonzola--I died.

Did I mention it weighed over 2-1/4 POUNDS? Well, it did. And that's a small one--I've seen pictures of HUGE growths of them, "over 30 lbs," they say.

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