Foraging in Manchester: Chicken of the Woods

These huge beauties have been popping up on people's Instagram feeds a lot recently...

By Ben Brown | 21 June 2021

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3 Hands Deli on Deansgate have managed to get their hands on a massive 2kg one. Where The Light Gets In foraged themselves one too, and basically – everyone seems to be going a bit wild for them at the moment.

Easily one of the tastiest and most versatile mushrooms in the world – I present to you the wonderful CHICKEN OF THE WOODS.

Bright, bold, huge and VERY easy to identify, the Chicken of the Woods is a forager’s dream, and once you’ve managed to get your hands on one of ’em – there’s SO much you can do with them that the possibilities are (almost) endless.

Where The Light Gets In // Foraged treasure

This mushroom grows on trees, a fleshy bright yellow monster with bands of orange when young, fading to cream with age. The upper surface has a velvety feel, whilst the underneath has very small pores and a strong ‘fungusy’ smell.

As far as mushrooms go – identifying this beauty is a synch – with the only similar one knocking about being the Giant Polypore – which is brown. So if it’s yellow – you go ahead and get excited, you’ve just hit the jackpot!

It’s a rather common addition to many tree trunks in the UK, with it being in season from June until Autumn. It’s mostly found on Oak trees, but may be stuck on the side of the odd Yew or Cherry tree too. Stick with the oak ones though.

One of the three commonest trees in Greater Manchester, you’ll find English Oak trees in most of the region’s parks, walks and wild areas, so finding Chicken of the Woods shouldn’t be too difficult. In the past I’ve scored a big juicy one in Alexandra Park in Moss Side, but you should keep an eye out for ’em wherever you find yourself having a walk.

The mushroom itself is a fantastic substitute for meat in a meal, and can be used to replace chicken in most recipes. Much like chicken, definitely don’t eat this mushroom raw – get it cooked properly so that you don’t give yourself a little belly ache.

3 Hands Deli // 2kg monster

What can you do with it?

Well, 3 Hands Deli will be creating their very own toasted sandwich, paired with raw cows curd, wild garlic, roast tomato, Zuni pickles and grilled artichokes. Wowzers!

Similarly, a quick search on the internet will uncover a massive range of dishes and ways to cook it, from grilled to steamed to sautéed and my favourite – Forager Chef’s ‘Chicken Fried Chicken of the Woods‘.

So, next time you’re out walking the dog or taking a stroll with some tinnies, keep an eye out on the trunks of the trees – because it’s likely that there are some juicy Chicken of the Woods knocking about that are perfect for your tea.

As usual – don’t be a dick and take them all – just what you need – you know the score by now.