Monday, November 17, 2003

All About Chanterelles


Fresh chanterelles are my favorite mushroom. Sure I enjoy porcini and I certainly wouldn't pass up a truffle white or black if it crossed my plate. But there is something about chanterelles that appeals to me the most. They are so very unique. First of all they are beautiful to look at, golden and trumpet shaped. Not a true gilled mushroom, the underside of the cap has rounded gill-like ridges or veins that branch irregularly so their texture when cooked is velvety and tender. They cook up like an oyster mushroom unlike common button mushrooms, which are often crumbly when raw or wet and juicy when cooked. Flavor-wise chanterelles are delicate and almost fruity tasting, nothing like the earthy meaty taste of a portabello for instance. Some have compared the scent of chanterelles to apricots. They smell and taste more like a flower then a mushroom.

Divine when prepared simply and served on their own, chanterelles combine well with almost every other kind of mushroom too. This past week I made a delicious woodsy stew of bacon, chicken, potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, dried porcini mushrooms and fresh chanterelles. Buy and use them while they are in season in the fall and winter (or early spring depending upon what region of the country you live in) like other mushrooms they need moist earth to grow and flourish.

Here are some suggestions for using your fresh mushrooms:

*Saute in butter and garlic and serve on toast

*Serve as a garnish for grilled pork chops

*Saute and use as a filling for a French omelette

*Saute with chicken and make a cream sauce from the pan drippings

*Make a stew of mushrooms, onions, and chicken

*Bake in parchment with either a filet of fish or scallops

*Serve as a side dish with a mild vegetable such as pan cooked green beans

Enjoy!