Fried chicken mushrooms, or Lyophyllum decastes have eluded me for a number of years. I read about them first in David Arora's Mushrooms Demystified, but hadn't ever seen them hunting in Minnesota.
As far as mushrooms go, they're pretty non-descript. They're small, and typically grow in clusters around disturbed land, which, as most mushroom hunters will tell you, are characteristics that can be used to describe plenty of species.
With so many fun mushrooms to hunt and play with, I forgot about them, and didn't put much effort into seeking them out. You won't find online diatribes praising their aroma or flavor, like you will their cousins in the greater Tricholoma family: Matsutake and Honey Mushrooms.
Even so, I was surprised to get a message from my foraging buddy Dan this year that a local coop was selling them-I had to try some. The selection at the coop was pretty typical: old, past prime mushrooms that had obviously been picked many days before sitting on a shelf for customers to pick up, inspect, and then set back down after they notice the 40$/lb tag, the same price of Pacific Northwest chanterelles at the same market.
Regardless, I coughed up 20 bucks for enough shrooms to experiment with and brought them home. In the kitchen they came out similar to their cousins I've cooked. They were meaty, and had a nice texture, but they didn't have quite the same "oomph" flavor-wise that any species of honey mushroom I've had does, let alone something as special as a matsutake. Comparing them to a cultivated shiitake (which they're also related to) is reasonable.
So, in all honesty, the fried chicken mushroom was fun to play with, but I'll probably describe them in the future as the honey mushroom's ugly brother. It's definitely not that they aren't a mushroom fit for the table, since they definitely are. It's just that it's a very rare moment that I'll buy a mushroom from a store, so when I do, it better be really, really good.
With the retail price tag in mind, I'd almost rather have a shiitake, since I'm not independently wealthy. If I am going to spring for a spendy mushroom, and I have the choice of these or chanterelles (as was the case at the coop) I'm buying the chanterelles. If I had a patch I knew of where they grew though, I'd definitely cook with fried chicken mushrooms much more.
One last thing, of note about these you'll want to know: they have a thickening quality when cooked in a stock or broth, just like honey mushrooms and some Amanita species, it works a bit like cornstarch.
Has anyone seen these wild in the Midwest? I'd love to hear about it.
How do the quality of these compare to subpar, overhandled, several days on a shelf honey mushrooms?
BTW, and off-topic, right now there are many polypores out for the picking, all but one type that may not even be in your area. are thus far believed to be edible. They're often hard, but can be boiled or pressure cooked to extract huge heaps of mushroom flavor for a broth/stock. Some are bitter, which some people like or tolerate, and of course there are ways of using bitter flavors in cooking that can be interesting. I hope you'll have a chance to forage for, cook with, and write about tough polypores this winter.
Sam Schaperow, M.S.
Hi Sam, The quality is about the same I would suspect. I was more making a comment about the sad state of fresh mushrooms in grocery stores.
I find these from time to time in the Twin Cities area, and I'd rate them *excellent* for the table when fresh--far superior to honey mushrooms in every respect. They're tricky to ID though.
I found a large amount of what I believe to be Fried Chicken Mushrooms. I am 95% sure that it's what they are. What are your resources? I have it narrowed down to either Fried Chicken or Sweating Mushroom, which I really don't want to eat if i am wrong
Look to David Arora.
You can post it to the Yahoo group MushroomTalk, of which David's a member.
I found a large amount of what I believe to be Fried Chicken Mushrooms. I am 95% sure that it's what they are. What are your resources? I have it narrowed down to either Fried Chicken or Sweating Mushroom, which I really don't want to eat if i am wrong.
They are in perfect condition and they have a smell that is almost sweet and nutty at the same time.
I think I may have found a cluster in the north metro!
I'm a noob so even through I really want to cook these up, I won't. Wish I could post you a pic!
Feel free to send me a pic on facebook if you want, or post your picture in the forum "mushroom hunting and foraging in Minnesota" on facebook, I'm active on there.
Just picked a cauliflower-size bunch of lyophullum in the North Metro yesterday morning. When fresh and clean, they are one of my favorites. Not all that distinctive in the flavor department—they certainly don't taste like chicken—but they have a lovely appearance and texture. I wish I came across them more often.
I believe I found these in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho in a back yard. Have decent images of anatomy, in vivo cluster and spore print - would you be willing to drop me an email so I might send them to you for an opinion? Used Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora to ID but I'm very new to this hobby.
I have only picked a few of these, and until I'm more well versed in them I would recommend you post in a mushroom group on FB-that is your best bet. You can shoot me a line at alanbergo3 AT gmail.com
I have found a great cluster in Central Ohio, my Dad and I found a large group years ago in N/W Indiana. Glad I finally ID'd them
You said you’d love to hear from us if found in the Midwest- just found a very large cluster when flipping my duck-poop shavings compost pile, north of Mpls in the far north metro! Can’t wait to get back out there and look for more, gives me a new excitement when it comes to the laborious job of turning my massive compost piles !
That's great! thanks. It's their season now, they like it cold.
Hi, I first found a big batch of these last summer in early Sept. It took a couple days to get the identified, and in the end, threw them out because these were first wild mushrooms I had ever harvested. However, I found them again this year, growing in the same location roughly. So, I harvested them and cooked them. I harvested these in Anoka county, about 6 miles north of the Mississippi river. I find them very mild, and as you noted, work quite well as a thickener for stews or chowders. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm thinking of trying them with making a lobster bisque, using them as a thickening agent, and my lobster mushroom as the substitute for the meat. I would be curious to hear how you use them. I love following your page!
Hey Robert. If you get another flush of them let me know, I need some updated images of them in the field. Thanks for commenting.