Chicken of the Woods "Club" Sandwich

These chicken of the woods mushrooms were a pleasant surprise. We found them on public land nearby, and while we were initially unimpressed by the absence of that expected "mushroom-y" aroma, chicken of the woods' unique texture is its best asset. Rick took a bite of the mushroom by itself and described it "like chicken breast without any seasonings." 

We often like to describe good mushrooms as "meaty," but with chickens, that's no exaggeration. When torn or bitten, there's a grain that's similar to meat, and resembling the breasts of its feathered name-sake, chicken of the woods' mild flavor can serve as a blank slate for all the spices and herbs that your heart desires. 

The mushrooms we harvested were not large. We could've let them grow bigger, but seeing as they were right by the trail at a public place, we got greedy and took them anyway. These were also the first chicken of the woods we've ever harvested, so curiosity won. 

Though small, our mushrooms were in prime condition for eating. If you've seen photos of other people's harvests, chicken of the woods can grow into bouquets the size of family picnic baskets. I have no experience on how these mushrooms would taste, but according to a botanist friend– who found one such specimen growing on a stump in front of his township's courthouse– that while the outer edges of his find were still tender and delicious, the rest of it was tougher than he'd prefer. 

Another good thing about chicken of the woods mushrooms: they don't shrink nearly as much as other mushrooms when cooked. In hand, fresh chicken of the woods feel almost rubbery and foam-like, not delicate like morels or oysters, which are composed of mostly water. They also keep their shape well and cook up into a beautiful, vibrant orange color. With the handful of "coins"that we harvested, we were able to make a decent-size sandwich to share. 

We enjoyed this "club" sandwich more than we thought we would; we actually did not miss real chicken. If I was ever forced to become a vegetarian– God forbid– chicken of the woods mushrooms would be near the top of my favorite-ingredients list.

Disclaimer: Remember to positively identify any wild edible before consumption. Also, try only a little bit at first to account for possible allergic reactions.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
- Thick-cut bacon slices
- Tender chicken of the woods mushrooms
- Sliced bread (pictured, sourdough)
- Softened butter
- Dijon mustard
- Mayonnaise
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
- Sliced tomatoes (pictured, heirloom tomatoes)
- Lettuce (pictured, romaine and frisée)
- Sliced cheese (pictured, Muenster and cheddar)


1.Render bacon until crispy and drain on paper towels, set aside. Pour off most of the grease from the pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan.

2. If necessary, cut chicken of the woods mushrooms into smaller pieces. Over medium heat, brown the mushrooms in the bacon grease until golden on both sides, flipping occassionally. Do not overcrowd the pan– brown mushrooms in batches and add more grease as needed. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper. 

[If you like, you can grill the mushrooms instead.] 

3. When ready, spread a thin layer of butter on both sides of sliced bread. Broil until slightly golden and crispy. Then spread mayonnaise and Dijon mustard onto warm bread. Season sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper. Assemble CLUB sandwiches with greens, cooked mushrooms, sliced tomatoes, cheese, and bacon. Serve with chips.