Ají de Gallina del Bosque
A take on Peruvian spicy chicken stew using Chicken of the Woods mushrooms.
Chicken of the Woods mushrooms (Laetiporus sulphureus) are one of the first mushrooms beginning mushroom foragers grow to appreciate. With their bright orange to golden colors, they are easy to spot in the forest and there are no toxic mushrooms that they are easy to confuse with.
As you might expect, they tastes a bit like chicken and the texture is quite similar too. Their flavor is quite mild, and it absorbs whatever sauce you put on it. Most recipes for chicken of the woods is often fried, baked or sautéed. Generally, you can use them with any recipe you would use chicken with. I’ve seen them as Buffalo chicken of the woods sandwiches, like chicken fried steak with red eye gravy, chicken of the woods schnitzel and as a filling or topping for chicken of the woods tacos, tarts and pizzas.
I’ve become accustomed over the past year to incorporate local wild ingredients I forage for into Latin American recipes, so I started to think of some of my favorite recipes that use chicken in The Latin American Cookbook.
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For the following recipe, I’m using a fairly standard preparation for ají de gallina, a spicy chicken stew that’s quite common in-home kitchens in Peru. There are a lot of minor variations to the recipe. Some plate it with slices of boiled potatoes, while others use rice. Some use walnuts or peanuts instead of pecans. I didn’t have any deep purple botija olives from southern Peru so I didn’t use them, but if you have them they’re nice to add. You can even use the recipe to make a filling for empanadas.
Lastly, OK, OK, linguistically, hen of the woods mushrooms would be a better fit for the recipe’s name, however chicken of the woods mushrooms are more appropriate gastronomically speaking. Plus, most use chicken rather than hen in their ají de gallina recipes anyway.
Recipe: Ají de Gallina del Bosque
Spicy Peruvian style stew with chicken of the woods mushrooms.