This is the time of year when sharp eyes in the woods can discover great treasures, like chanterelle mushrooms. A trumpet shaped wild mushroom with a bright orange-yellow color, the chanterelle has a nutty, delicate flavor and somewhat chewy texture. Their distinctive shape has been compared to an umbrella turned inside out by a gust of wind.
The chanterelle mushroom is considered one of the most flavorful of all the edible mushrooms. They most often are found in mossy ground under trees that filter the sun. I often find them growing on the edge of gravel roads, and spot them easier in the morning light.
Foraging for mushrooms is risky business for the uneducated eye. As a chef, I’ve been fortunate to work with chanterelles enough to recognize them. The Maine Mycological Association is a great resource. The organization also conducts foraging walks and education activities around the state.
Chanterelles can be enjoyed in a number of ways, just like other mushrooms. Chanterelles in Cream is one of my favorite preparations, especially when served on buttery puff pastry. If chanterelles aren’t available, then button mushrooms work too. This is a rich dish, with enough energy for another walk in the woods.
CHANTERELLES IN CREAM
- 1 pound small chanterelles
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons finely minced shallot, summer onion or garlic scapes
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Trim the chanterelles and wipe them gently with a brush or soft cloth. (I use an old toothbrush to clean them) If they are large, slice them lengthwise into quarters. Dry them and set aside.
- Using a large sauté pan (that has a cover), melt the butter and heat the oil. Add the shallots or chopped onions to the pan. Cover and cook over moderately low heat for about 10 minutes or until they are soft.
- Add the mushrooms and wine. Season to taste with the sea salt and fresh pepper.
- Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Uncover and cook an additional 10 minutes.
- Stir in the cream and raise the heat. Simmer until the sauce is reduced by one-half, about 3 to 4 more minutes. Stir in the fresh parsley. Taste and correct the seasonings. Serve on toast points or in puff pastry shells.