When most people think of going up into the woods to hunt for mushrooms they think of chanterelles, chicken of the woods, hen of the woods, morels and of course porchini. I have found all of these on the farm and many, many more. As a cook, few things excite me more than coming across a patch of bright yellow chanterrels suddenly appearing on the side of shady hill or bunch of golden oysters growing out of a dead elm stump.
One excursion resulted in my finding a wonderful cache of yellow chanterelles and black trumpets.
One of my most memorable forays, however, was on one Sunday morning when I wandered quite distance from the farm house. I was instinctively drawn this particular morning to a large section of oak woods that I always found to be quite spiritual. The leaves on the forest floor were sodden and silent from the heavy rains the day before so I could move through the red, chestnut and pin oaks towering around me with the reverence and respect this cathedral deserved. My silence melded into the silence around me. As I passed one ancient deacon after another, I spotted the unmistakable yellow flash of a large growth of Chicken of the Woods growing out of a fallen log brought down by a long ago storm. I excitedly cut 20 pounds of the treasure free and headed back contemplating recipes.
When I got back to the farm house, I told Carolyn to find eight friends who could join us for an impromptu mushroom celebration. I adapted one of my old recipes into Chicken of the Woods Alfredo over pappardelle with some wonderful Petit Verdot I’d been saving for just such an occasion. Now that’s a Sunday on the farm I won’t forget!