Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chicken of the Woods and Asparagus with Vodka Sauce

I love chicken of the woods.  It's a type of mushroom called a sulfur shelf that generally grow on hardwoods.  My favorite farmer at the local farmers market and his wife are fantastic mushroom foragers.  Anytime we have a day or two of heavy rains, they are out looking for oyster mushrooms, chicken of the woods, and morals. 
Last year, among other things, I breaded the chicken of the woods like I do panko crusted chicken and I also sauteed them and tossed them with some olive oil, broccoli from the market, Parmesan cheese, and penne pasta.  Because chicken of the woods soak up oil very quickly, this year I wanted to do something different with them.

For Mother's Day this year I decided to try out flat iron steak on the grill and found a recipe for chicken of the woods from the Washington Post that looked like it would make a hearty sauce or side dish for the steak.  I had some asparagus and spring onions from the farmer's market and some chives the 8 year old planted in the my herb garden that I wanted to add as well.

So I adapted the Washington Post recipe and let me tell you, I could eat a whole bowl of this stuff on its own.  In fact it has enough substance, it could hold up well as a main dish if you'd like or serve it over pasta. Especially if you are using a gas stove, it's important to remove the pan from the heat before pouring in the vodka.  Otherwise, you could cause a flair up and a kitchen fire.

Chicken of the Woods and Asparagus with Vodka Cream Sauce
Adapted from the Washington Post

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 pound chicken of the woods, cut into 1 inch strips
1 large spring onion or 3 small green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup cream
2-3 sprigs chives, snipped

In a large skillet, 1 tablespoon butter over medium - high heat.  Saute asparagus about 5 minutes until crisp tender.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Add in the remainder of the butter and stir in chicken of the woods and onions.  Saute 5 minutes.  Melt in additional butter if the mixture becomes dry.  Salt to taste.

Remove the pan from the heat and pour in vodka.  Return the pan to the heat and continue to cook another 5 minutes until much of the vodka is absorbed.  

Stir in the chicken broth and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until broth is reduced by half.  Reduce heat to low.  Stir in cream and return asparagus to the pan.  Cook another 5 minutes until sauce is thickened.  

Top with snipped chives.  Serve over grilled flat iron steak, flank steak, pasta, or as a side dish.

Makes four side dishes or two main dishes.

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