Chicken picatta is a dish that I’ve never had before, but in my quest to find traditionally chicken recipes to make with my wild chicken of the woods mushrooms (more about those below), the chicken picatta stood out. It is simple, takes less than 30 minutes to make, and is bathed in a wine-based sauce (my wine appreciation has gone up as of late). Additionally, when I first made this I had all the ingredients I needed already in the house, more or less sealing the deal that vegan chicken picatta would be made.
Chicken of the woods is an ingredient that has been on my plate a lot lately- as the fall blooms, dying and decaying trees lend themselves as nutrients for brightly colored mushrooms. Lately almost every time I go out into the woods I find another chicken of the woods sprouting out of the trunk or roots of a dying tree- and my recipes reflect that. Chicken of the woods is one of the most plentiful and easily identifiable species (although technically, it’s actually six different species), with orange tops (sometimes faded into a more peach color) and yellow pores. Always make sure to practice caution and be sure of your identification before eating- consult an expert and be safe. Additionally, for this recipe a young, fresh and clean chicken of the woods is best- you want to cook it in fairly large pieces, so you don’t want to have to be slicing it up to remove leaves and bugs.
Chicken picatta has a few easy steps- first you cook the mushrooms (“chicken”), Use that same pan to make the sauce and put the mushrooms and the sauce over pasta. The mushrooms are coated lightly in a flour mixture- purists can use just flour and a little salt, but I flavored mine with a bit of grated almond cheese- I used a variation of this recipe, but you could also use a store -bought vegan parmesan or straight nutritional yeast to add a little flavor. Cover the mushrooms with flour- if you are having trouble getting the flour to stick to the mushrooms, pressing it in gently should do the trick. Cook the mushrooms in olive oil for four minutes on each side, and keep them warm in the oven while you make the sauce.
The sauce incorporates the leftover oil (most of this should have been used up in the cooking process) and blackened bits of flour that have fallen off. Cook the wine, lemon and capers with the leftovers from frying the mushrooms, and simmer for a few minutes, allowing the sauce to reduce a little and the alcohol in the wine to cook off. Mix with some vegan butter, and you’re ready to serve. Put down the pasta first, followed by the mushrooms and topped with the wine sauce. Garnish with parsley (or lemon slices), and voilà- less than 30 minutes later, and dinner is served.
Chicken of the Woods Picatta
- ¾ lb of chicken of the woods mushrooms
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup finely grated vegan cheese or nutritional yeast (optional)
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup of capers
- 3 TBSP vegan butter
- ½ lb. spaghetti
- Fresh parsley (optional)
1. Clean the chicken of the woods, and slice so they are fairly thin (about ¼-½ inch thick. Depending on your chicken, this might be about the thickness that the petals grew in)
2. Preheat the oven to 230 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and vegan cheese/nutritional yeast (if using). Dip the mushrooms into the flour, pressing slightly so that the mushrooms are lightly coated.
3. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. As cook as directed on the box, then set aside. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, cook the chicken of the woods (in batches, if needed) for 4 minutes on each side- as you cook bits of flour might come off and burn, but that will be incorporated into the sauce later. Put the cooked pieces on a baking tray in the warmed oven.
4. Once all the mushrooms have been cooked, pour the wine, capers and lemon juice directly into the same pan you were cooking with. Use a wooden spoon to scrape down the sides and bottom of the pan, and whisk to incorporate all the remaining oil and browned flour in the pot. Bring to a simmer for 3-4 minutes before adding the vegan butter and whisking together once it has melted.
5. Plate the pasta first, with the chicken of the woods on top and the lemon-wine sauce drizzled over both. Garnish with parsley, if desired.