Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.
It might be the increase in moisture; it might be the overall cooler night and morning temperatures; or it might be who knows what. But whatever the reason, there’s no denying that this year’s fall mushroom hunt is off to a phenomenal start. Most noticeable, of course, are the sulfur shelves . Most commonly referred to in these parts as Chicken-of-the-Woods, these dense textured, beefy delights are the most sought after species of fall mushroom.
This year’s “Chicken” crop is just coming on, and if the past few days are any indication, it’s going to be a record book season. During the past week, I’ve been fixing two meals of mushrooms nearly every day and have still had plenty left over to give away to friends. That’s pretty good considering that I’ve spent very little time specifically hunting them. When using Chicken-of-the-Woods for a breakfast entree, the spinach & mushroom omelet is one of my favorites.
Attached is another quick and easy mushroom recipe that I put together and have used the past three mornings. It’s quickly becoming another favorite — takes about ten minutes from start to finish. Has protein and vitamins, low on calories, and big on flavor.
Chicken-of-the-Woods wild mushrooms — You determine the quantity
1 Bell pepper
1 large jalapeno pepper [optional] 2 or 3 large eggs
butter or olive oil — You determine the amount
Chop bell pepper and mushrooms in equal amounts [although I like to go a bit heavier on the ‘rooms] and place in hot skillet with just enough melted butter or oil to keep ingredients from sticking. Keep pieces moving until peppers start to soften. Slice the jalapeno into rings — you usually get about a dozen rings from a large pepper — and add to skillet. [If you add jalapenos right at the beginning they will lose too much of their distinctive flavor by the time food is done. If you don’t like jalapeno peppers at all, just substitute with black pepper or whatever else you normally like with eggs.] After adding jalapenos, wait about a minute and a half or so, clear a spot in the middle of the skillet and add the eggs. This is where we come to a fork in the road on where to go from here. For a Southwestern flair, leave the eggs right where they are until cooked.
Otherwise, wait until the whites start to turn color and then begin gently mixing with peppers and mushrooms. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I think the delay on turning the eggs gives the dish more of a ‘fried egg’ flavor. As soon as eggs are the way you like, transfer skillet contents to a hot dish, and enjoy.
If the cooking process has taken too big a toll on the jalapenos to meet your personal taste, the entree can be reignited with a good shot of Tabasco or Louisiana hot sauce. For this one, I prefer the Louisiana sauce. Good Hunting!