Barbecue Shredded Chicken (of the Woods) Sammy
Folks, the recipe I am about to share here is a dream come true for vegetarians and vegans across the globe who have, in a former life, eaten and loved pulled pork, shredded chicken, or barbecue sandwiches of a number of varieties. It is a vegan barbecue sandwich! This ain’t made of some weird ass plant based protein shit that was developed in a lab, but rather one individual species. Just like how barbecue chicken is one individual species with some seasonings. This is like that. Only it’s a mushroom, instead of an animal.
You’re gonna love it, I guarantee it.
Step One: Chicken of the Woods (COW) Preparation (24 hours prior to grilling)
½ lb of chicken of the woods
Dry rub seasonings (whatever you prefer)
Start by sauteing the COW in a frying pan with enough oil to just coat the pan. Season with a dry rub or chili powder, salt, pepper, a little hot sauce too if you want. Do each side for a few minutes, just to essentially “parcook” the mushrooms.
Step Two: Marinade*
1 c oil (canola or vegetable oil works here)
1 c barbecue sauce
½ c red wine vinegar
Hot sauce (optional)
Mix together the barbecue sauce, vinegar and oil in a bowl. Place COW in a tupperware or gallon ziplock, pour over the marinade, ensure the COW is fully immersed in the liquid. Refrigerate until the next day when you plan on cooking the mushrooms. You can also throw it into the freezer and eat this several days or weeks later.
Step Three: Cole Slaw Preparation
1 head of cabbage
1 red onion
1 large carrot
1 large or 2 smaller jalapenos
1 handful of cilantro
Using a mandolin, slice your cabbage into shoestring size strips. Next, using a mandolin slice the red onion and jalapeno into paper thin rings. Cut carrot into matchsticks or thin batonettes. Coarsely chop the fistful of cilantro, leave the stems for additional flavor and texture if you like. Mix together all the ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
For the citrus vinaigrette:
2 oz olive oil
1 oz apple cider vinegar
1 oz honey
½ oz orange juice
¼ oz lime juice
¼ oz lemon juice
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients in a small (8 oz) mason jar. Tighten lid securely. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Taste, adjust ingredients as you like. Pour over slaw in bowl to your preferred amount of dressing. Grab a handful of the shredded vegetables and pull them apart, mixing well and ensuring all is coated but not too wet. Set aside until COW is finished.
Step Four: Grilling**
Remove chicken from marinade. Do not bother with rinsing the COW off or patting it dry. It may go onto the grill sopping wet. The mushroom will absorb some of that moisture while cooking.
Sear each side over high heat so you get some of those grill marks. Then baste with more sauce, place the chicken over low heat and cover the grill, allowing it to smoke for a few minutes. Remove lid and remove chicken. It will not need much time to cook through. Keep in mind, it should have been mostly cooked through from the saute, so this step is as much to get that grill flavor as it is to cook it the rest of the way. The COW should not spend more than 10 or 12 minutes on the grill, and in most cases, for smaller bits or thinner pieces, it should be about a minute on each side for the sear and then 3 or 4 minutes under low-medium heat and smoke (larger one inch thick pieces could probably use more like 8 to 10 minutes under low-medium heat and smoke.
While removed COW is cooling, go a head and take a couple of buns, lightly brushed with oil or butter and get some nice grill marks on each side. Set buns aside.
Step Five: Toss in the Sauce
After the chicken is cool enough to handle with your hands, tear it apart into thin strips, about shoestring size. If you prefer, you could also slice into thin strips with a knife while it’s hot. For a younger more tender COW, you likely will be able to shred it using two forks. My specimen was not so tender! Once shredded, add more barbecue sauce and stir it up so everything is nice and saucy to your liking.
Step Six: Plate the Sandwich
Heap a pile of the BBQ shredded COW onto the bun. Top with a generous helping of cole slaw. Top with top bun and take a big bite out of vegan goodness.
*For a very young and tender chicken of the woods, the marinade step is unnecessary for the purposes of tenderizing, though it certainly provides flavor, so maybe consider only doing it for an hour before grilling or simply basting the COW just prior to grilling and while grilling.
**I chose to grill my COW. Conceivably with a thicker piece you could possibly smoke it, but I would just worry about turning the mushroom into a piece of jerky! Though if that happened, maybe it’d be good! If you decide to try smoking yours, please do let me know how it goes!