The Chanterelle mushroom is the king of all foods, in my opinion. When prepared properly, these mushrooms outshine all other mushrooms in flavor, complexity, texture. They are made extra special because they are unable to be cultivated in a laboratory–therefore, there is no domestic production of chanterelle mushrooms as there is for many other popular culinary mushrooms, including shiitake. They are only collected wild, and you can only find them widely available for purchase in the fall months, usually October-November. I’m not a mushroom hunter, though sometimes I wish I were, because these extra special mushrooms command a very high price, ranging from $19.99 per pound to $34.99 per pound here in Oregon. Chanterelle mushrooms can be found wild all over the northern United States (and are one of the easier mushrooms to identify), but we have a bit more of them here in the Pacific Northwest.
I am proud of my method of preparation for chanterelle mushrooms. I have perfected it over the last few years, and I have wowed many a guest with these prepared mushrooms. The final product can be used in so many ways–my favorite is to serve it over parmesan-sage-squash gnocchi (a separate recipe I might share sometime). Other options are over steak, mixed with eggs, over bread, as a pizza topping, or just a simple side dish. I have had more than one person tell me “That is the most delicious thing I have ever eaten in my life.” Lucky you—I’ll show you how to do it.
I call it more of a technique than a recipe, because quantities of ingredients will vary highly, based on the innate water content in the mushrooms you purchase. We are in a drought this year, so I have noticed that my chanterelle mushrooms are a bit drier. The one advantage is this makes them weigh less and cost less by the pound. The disadvantage is that it takes a bit longer to soften a mushroom when it doesn’t have as much water content.
Ingredient list: chanterelle mushrooms, butter, salt, onion or shallot, heavy cream
I use a cast iron pan. It is the best way to brown a mushroom. You can use any skillet, but get yourself into cast iron cooking ASAP—I love it. I heat the pan, add 2 or so tablespoons of butter, and start softening those mushrooms.
Meanwhile, mince some onion, or preferably a shallot. About 1/2 of a cup. This is how fine I dice mine.
Cook, cook, cook those mushrooms, stirring often until they are soft and browned. You need to cook off all of the water content. This can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes. If your mushrooms are very dry to start with, you will need to add additional butter or even some water or chicken broth to keep cooking them to soften. If your mushrooms are very wet to start with, they will soften quickly, but you need to cook off all of that water to get the caramelization. This is what they should look like when you add the onion and a large pinch or two of salt (preferably flake style Kosher). Continue browning, cooking until the onion is also soft and browned, just a few more minutes.
Absolutely, delicious—this is your melt in your mouth final product. Use it as in the suggestions listed above, or as a beautiful side dish. Use the leftovers in your eggs the following morning or later in the week.