Last Saturday I had the immense pleasure of going to the Grandin market for the first time since the last weekend of October–and let me tell you, it was good to be back!  After catching up with farmers and producers I hadn’t seen in months, I finally settled on buying a bunch of new herbs & vegetables to plant in the garden (lemon balm, sage, tons of basil, spaghetti squash, etc.) along with some lettuce and fresh sweet cherries.  One of my favorite scores, though, was finding the chicken of the woods mushrooms again!  Oh, how I’ve missed these strange, chickeny fungi.

The last couple of times I had them I simply braised or seared them, but this time I decided to go out on a limb–a highly sacrilegious limb, or so it felt. You see, the mushrooms are always my most expensive purchase–$5 for about two servings (although I stretch it out)–and while that’s all relative, the thought of deep frying such expensive delicacies seemed wrong.

A couple of weeks ago I spent the evening chatting with the man who holds the title of the largest morel found in Iowa. This guy hunts up morels so often that he deep fries them. I gave him hell for that–I mean, why on earth would anyone deep fry a morel?! It’s just wrong! I’ve only had the chance to eat them twice in my life and this man deep fries them?? Well…I deep fried my chicken of the woods and holy mother of mary they were awesome. The batter was just like the fried chicken I grew up eating at church picnics (cheesy but true) and the mushroom still, I honestly swear, tastes like and has the texture of chicken. It’s uncanny. Sacrilegious or no, these fungi are wicked good.

Southern Fried Chicken of the Woods

2 large chicken of the woods mushrooms
1/4 c En-Er-G Egg Replacer
1/2 c water
3 tbs siracha/hot sauce
1 c self-rising flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
vegetable oil for frying

Thoroughly wash and clean the mushrooms and cut into desired size.

Whisk together the egg replacer and the water in a bowl until foamy and thick. Add the siracha/hot sauce.

In a pie pan or 8×8 baking dish, mix together the self-rising flour, salt, and pepper.

Warm at least 3 inches of vegetable in a pot (I used my circa 1973 Fry Daddy) until a drop of water crackles and pops when flicked into the oil.

Dredge the mushrooms in the egg replacer mixture and then in the flour, thoroughly coating each piece.

Fry two or three mushroom pieces at a time, being sure not to crowd because that will lower the temperature of the oil.

Once golden brown, place on paper towels to drain excess oil.

Serves 2