The World's Best Fried Chicken... of the Woods
If you are a vegetarian (or vegan) this is the best fried chicken substitute on earth! But never fear carnivores, I promise that you'll never know the difference. Keep reading for my secret recipe!
Fall is finally on it's way! Hurray! Not only is this my favorite season but it also means that some of the garden madness is coming to a close and that the temperature is cooling down. Cool temps means chicken of the woods mushrooms and more time for me means I can go out and get them! If you've never foraged for, or eaten, these tasty mushrooms before, you have no idea what you're missing out on! Not only can they be found in huge quantities, but they are one of the most delicious foraged treats out there. When cooked, they have the exact same texture and taste as real chicken! I know what you're thinking, every time someone says something tastes like chicken they're usually wrong. But I am serious! When you bread and fry this mushroom it is exactly like fried chicken, maybe even better. Vegans rejoice!
So here's how this magic happens. First, you'll have to go out and find yourself some chicken of the woods. They generally grow on rotten oak logs. Or you need some really, really good mushroom foraging friends that are willing to share. Remember to use sustainable wild harvesting practices and be absolutely sure of your identification before eating any wild mushroom. Pictured above is one I harvested today!
Next, you'll have to cut or rip it into into chicken tender sized chunks. I prefer the thinner strips because they are less chewy, but Zak likes the thick chunks, so I guess it's really just personal preference.
Pour about 1/4-1/2 inch of oil into a pan and let it start to heat up. I like to use sunflower or peanut oil because I know that it is non-GMO even when I can't afford the organic stuff.
To make the batter, crack three eggs in a bowl and mix in about 1/3 cup of water, beer, or pickle juice (I love it with pickle juice!). If you'd like, you can also add a little hot sauce. If you are vegan, simply use 2/3 cups of liquid and omit the eggs.
In another bowl combine about 1 1/2 cups flour, bread crumbs, or crushed corn flakes with salt and pepper to taste. I used corn flakes this time just because I happened to have some, but I normally wouldn't buy these. They do make damn good breading, though. Also, don't skimp on the pepper. If you want to get a little creative, try adding some other seasoning, such as smoked paprika, mustard powder, garlic powder, or all three.
Dunk the mushroom strips into the egg one at a time and then roll in the bread crumbs. I like mine to be extra breaded so I dip it in the egg, then into the bread crumbs, then back into the egg and into the crumbs again. This gets kind of messy, but it's totally worth it.
Once you have a plate full of breaded mushrooms ready to go, test to see if your oil is hot enough. To do so, flick some of the batter from your fingers into the hot oil. If it sizzles, it's ready.
Spread your battered mushrooms in the pan evenly and cook for about five minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown. Place on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet and set your fried chickens... of the woods, on it so that it doesn't get soggy from condensation beneath. This is a key step! Nobody likes soggy fried food!
Let cool for a couple of minutes and serve with your favorite sauce! We ate so much it was nauseating so we had to have a little kombucha tasting party afterwards. Be prepared for pigging out!
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