Chicken of the Woods is an unusual addition to dishes where chicken would normally be used. This mushroom’s seasonality is less than two months and works well as a substitute for the meat of its namesake. It is one of the only true summer mushrooms in Cape Town and unlike others, relies on heat to grow. For more info on the vivid orange fungus, read my other story on them here.
Here’s a recipe that I have spent some trial and error on – Creamy Chicken of the Woods linguine with cherry tomatoes, ricotta cheese, fresh thyme and white wine:
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- Roughly 500g sliced Chicken of the Woods – picked fresh & young from the right tree and boiled for 5 minutes in a pot with water beforehand
- 2 cups of pouring cream
- 1 can of Italian tomato sauce
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- A good tablespoon or two of butter
- Half a cup of fresh, chopped thyme
- 1 cup of dry white wine
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 400g linguine pasta
- Pinch of salt
- Crack of black pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
NOW FOR THE MAGIC
Sauce: Bring a large pan with the butter to a high heat and then add the garlic and Chicken of the Woods only once it’s hot in there. Let it cook through thoroughly – you will notice it will go a darker shade of orange. Once the liquid inside the pan starts subsiding (about 5-10 minutes after adding) add the wine so that the Chicken can soak it up. Reduce the heat to medium after the wine has been soaked and then add the cherry tomatoes. Fry them all together until the tomatoes get soft and then add the Italian tomato sauce. Let this simmer for a few minutes and then add the cream while continuously stirring. Add the chopped thyme to the sauce and stir through – it should now be a lovely orange colour. Lastly add the ricotta cheese and reduce the heat to medium-low, occasionally stirring.
Pasta: Bring a pot to the boil and add the linguine. Cook it until al dente then drain the pasta. Now add the linguine to the sauce and let them fuse together in the pan on a low heat for another 5 minutes after adding the salt, pepper and the juice of the lemon.