As though bags of cucumbers and bushloads of tomatoes aren’t enough to deal with the week before heading back to school, we just discovered some amazing gourmet mushrooms growing along our driveway. These aren’t the cute little morrels that John found where the ginko trees used to grow. These babies are enormous.
The first is growing near the mailbox. We contacted our chef buddy who contacted his mushroom buddy who believed that we have a hen of the woods. Mushroom connoisseurs go crazy over these. One hen-lover makes special lasagna with it—one to eat now and one to freeze for later. Hen of the woods mushrooms grow at the base of dead oak trees. Sure enough, this one is at the base of a dead oak tree, and two more are growing on the other side of the tree. The hen is a fall mushroom and can be found as early as late August after heavy rain. It is not quite mid-August here but it has been unusually cool and wet…as our flooded basement can attest to. They often re-appear in the same location year after year. Hmm. So maybe we now have a morrel location in the spring and a hen of the woods location for the fall?
Or do we have a black staining polypore? The black staining polypore turns black where you touch it or cut it. Growing under the oak tree, this mushroom is beautifully white on the underside and does not turn black when we touch it. However, once it is harvested and sitting in the mudroom, it immediately begins to turn and the cut edges are definitely black. The polypore’s season is July and August. It has a wonderful earthy fragrance, more intense than a portobello. While not as exquisite as the hen, it is edible and freezable, even in its blackened state.
Walking back to the ‘shroom for more photos, I spotted another mushroom along the drive. After having researched the hen, I was pretty sure I was now spotting a chicken! A chicken of the woods mushroom.
Chicken of the woods has been described as tasting like…ready? Chicken. Or crab or lobster. Our new mushroom friend recently dipped hers in egg and flour and fried it for a heavenly meal that even her ten year old step-son liked.
I thought we were having hamburgers for dinner tonight with a slice of tomato and home-made pickle. Looks like the menu is changed to mushroom surprise. It’s a surprise because I haven’t decided which one to cook first or how I want it prepared. I also have to decide what to do with what we don’t eat.
This is feeling like Part One of a mushroom series. And I haven’t even gotten to the intriguing topic of cucumber chips.
Stayed tuned. And if back-to-school side-tracks me, then you’ll just have to nag. I have a feeling we will be dealing with the bounty of the land for quite awhile.
Post-dinner update: guess what? The chicken of the woods tastes like chicken! We cooked it up using a recipe from Forager Chef and it was like eating chicken tenders. Once we’ve waited 48 hours to not die from the chicken, John plans to saute up some of the other. I really deserve a prize for being a supportive wife.