What a find, three different summer fungi in as many days: Chicken of the woods, Dryads saddle, and St George’s mushrooms. We are really lucky to have found them all, and in perfect condition to eat. Below is a recipe using all three, I’ve called it wild chicken pie because the chicken of the woods fungi has a flavour and texture similar to chicken breast. There are also very nice photos from our wild food foraging day course on Saturday 18th May 2013 …we braved the rain!
The warm weather we had a couple of weeks ago has been followed by recent cold nights and rain, this has brought out the fungi. Chicken of the woods or Sulphur polypore is a bracket fungi which usually grows on rotting oak stumps. It can also be found on living trees including oak, chestnut and beech. It is easy to identify by its tiered golden brackets, the underneath of which are sulphur yellow. Although Chicken of the woods is commonly eaten a small minority of people do experience nausea and dizziness after eating it so we advise you to be cautious.
The Dryad’s Saddle often grows on large logs and the stumps of broadleaf trees, particularly sycamore, horse chestnut, beech and ash. The story goes that Dryad’s are little woodland elves and this fungus is the one they use to saddle their mythical horses. This bracket fungus can only be eaten when it is young and soft, by the time it is large and flat it not only looks like a saddle it has the same texture! Look up this fungi in a book you should find it an easy one to identify. With distinctive brown scales on a light brown upper side and creamy white pores underneath.
St George’s mushroom is named after St George’s day when it is meant to be found. Although these mushrooms are usually a week or two after the event they are really quite late this year. It grows in grass often on calcareous soil. It has densely packed white gills under a creamy cap, the stem is also white and it does not have a ring. I could go into great detail but if you are a novice then you should really learn more about fungi before risking a positive identification. There is a similar poisonous mushroom with a brown spore print. The spore print for St George’s mushroom is white.
The fungi courses at our own wood are all full, but we are looking at more locations. We will announce new fungi course dates through our facebook site but if you prefer please email us at email@example.com and will let you know when new courses are available.
Wild chicken pie – serves 4
- 1 small onion, skinned and chopped small
- 125g butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 100g wild garlic, stalks and leaves chopped separately
- 275g Chicken of the woods, torn into strips
- 175g Dryads saddle, sliced into bite size pieces
- 100g St Georges mushrooms, halved and sliced
- 250ml double cream
- 100-200ml milk
- Salt and pepper
- 200g readymade puff pastry
- 1 egg
Saute the onion in a good knob of butter for 2-3 minutes until soft but not coloured, add the chopped wild garlic stalks to the pan, cook for another minute then set aside. Now fry each of the wild mushroom types separately in butter with a little oil added (this stops the butter from burning) You need to fry on a high heat to seal the mushroom pieces and get a little colour on to them. They will take about 3-4 minutes for each type and probably use up all the butter in your ingredients list!
Now put the fried onion and garlic and all the mushrooms back into the pan, add the cream, half of the milk, the chopped wild garlic leaves and salt and pepper to taste, stir well and cook for a couple of minutes. Add more milk and seasoning if necessary to achieve a nice consistency and flavour to the sauce. Pour in to a suitable pie dish and leave to cool.
Pre heat the oven to 190 degrees C – gas mark 5. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board to 5cm larger all the way round than your pie dish. Cut a strip from the outside edge of the pastry, moisten the rim of the pie dish and stick the strip to the rim. Moisten the pastry on the rim and then lay the remaining pastry over the whole pie to form the lid. Trim off any excess and brush with beaten egg. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the pastry is cooked. Serve hot with steamed vegetables.
wild food foraging day course on Saturday 18th May 2013