Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vegetarian Buffalo "Chicken" Mushroom

Buffalo "Chicken" mushrooms are the perfect wild food to bring to your next World Cup, or other sporting event, party. As a foraged, vegetarian take on the popular chicken wing, they are tasty, quick to make, and very approachable to people not used to wild foods.

Laetiporus cincinnatus (the white chicken mushroom)
grows in "rosettes" at the bases of trees.
Plus, the chicken mushroom itself is abundant, often very large (great for party food), and easy to ID, which helps ease the mind of anyone who is mycophobic (afraid of wild mushrooms).

It looks like 2014 is going to be another banner year for Laetiporus growth, especially Laetiporus cincinnatus, the so-called "white chicken" (because it has a white, as opposed to yellow, underside). So go out and hike--the bright orange colors will jump out at you, if you are observant! Enjoy nature, and bring back a fun treat for yourself and all your friends.

Remember to clean your mushrooms thoroughly. Especially in the spring, with frequent rains, the mushrooms get dirt and mud splashed back on them. If they are ingrained in the pore surface, it's usually just easiest to scrape the pores off with a butter knife. Some bugs ON the mushroom and hiding in the folds are to be expected, but if they are actually IN the mushroom flesh you want to trim those parts away or not use the mushrooms at all. Mold grows quicker in the spring as well, and otherwise delectable mushrooms may have a couple spots. Trim it off vigorously in the field, to prevent spread in your fridge. 

Vegetarian Buffalo "Chicken" Mushroom

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 6-10 as a party-food. Can be doubled or tripled, or halved. 

4 cups chicken mushroom *, sliced into pieces of even thickness. ** 
3 tbs of butter
high temperature oil
1/3 cup hot sauce of your choosing, I used Frank's red-hot
2 cloves minced garlic, optional
blue cheese dressing, for serving ***
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil. Drizzle a high-temp oil over the surface, and spread. Arrange your mushroom slices on the foil, and drizzle with a little more oil over the mushrooms.
  3. Roast your mushrooms for about 7 minutes, then flip, and roast for another 5-7, checking for done-ness at 5. Wild mushrooms need to be completely cooked, and ideally these should get a little browning as well.
  4. While the mushrooms are in the oven, melt the butter over medium-low heat in a sauce pan. Add the garlic, if using, and saute for a couple of minutes, without allowing the garlic to brown. Add the hot sauce and mix through. 
  5. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and add to the butter/hot sauce mixture. Mix through thoroughly, coating all the mushrooms evenly. 
  6. Serve with blue cheese dressing, celery and carrots. 
* If you want to try this with cultivated mushrooms, I would consider shitake over white button or portabellos. I think the chewier texture will hold up better, and more closely resemble meat.

* Even thickness is important to ensure even cooking and no burning. I use the thickness of the thinnest caps as a guide, and slice the thicker core to the same width. If the cores are too old, and don't cut easily with a knife, just discard them. 

** Though I got lazy and used the store-bought cheese last night, in the past I have used this fantastic recipe for blue cheese dressing, that uses Greek yogurt as a base--but I omit the sweetener. 


  1. I love the white-pored cincinnatus species! It's my favorite of the three I've found in the Midwest.

    1. Hi Alan,

      Sorry about the delay in reading your comment, apparently the Blogger phone app doesn't notify me that I have comments waiting, I have to check on the computer.

      I prefer the white chicken as well, I think it has the least "spongy" texture.

      One time, mostly by accident, I got it to taste EXACTLY like ham. I am still trying to replicate what I did. (The problem is, my husband and I both seasoned it--not realizing that the other one had already done so, so we aren't entirely sure what we did)