Monday, September 28, 2015

Chanterelles: NW Forests, Golden Goodness

It's like an equation: Deep piles of Douglas fir needles plus cool Northwest rain equals…chanterelles! There's nothing like running across a patch of these unique and beautiful beauties while hiking in the woods, or even coming across piles of them in the produce section at your local market. Buttery, rich and tender, they're terrific plain or tossed with pasta. Contributor Jim Dixon of Real Good Food gets us started.

While the month's dry weather makes wandering through the forest looking for mushrooms very pleasant, some rain would make foraging more productive. But there are still plenty of chanterelles popping up, and if you don't find any in your favorite secret mushroom patch, head to the farmers market or a well-stocked produce department.

Funghi Trifolati

Trifolati means cooking in olive oil, garlic, and parsley, and mushrooms or funghi trifolati appear regularly on northern Italian antipasti tables. Mushrooms contain both fat and alcohol-soluble flavor compounds, so a splash of wine brings out even more mushroom-y goodness. And while it's not part of the Italian approach, starting off with a dry sauté concentrates the mushroom flavor and improves the texture dramatically.

I learned the method from an old mushroom-hunting guide called All That the Rain Promises, and More, and I always cook mushrooms like this:

Slice or tear the chanterelles into pieces and put them into a hot skillet, preferably cast iron, with nothing else. Keep the heat on medium-high, and within a few minutes the funghi will start releasing water (add a pinch of salt to help drive out the moisture). Cook, stirring frequently, until the water has almost disappeared; the time will depend on the moisture content. When the bottom of the pan starts to look dry, add a generous pour of extra virgin olive oil and a little chopped garlic.

Cook for a minute or two, then splash in a bit of white wine and let it cook down for another minute or two. Remove from the heat and add some chopped flat-leaf parsley and a few grinds of black pepper. If you're feeling Italian, eat these by themselves as an antipasto. Or spoon onto a slice of grilled bread, toss with a little pasta, or stir into scrambled eggs.

Read about one of my first mushroom hunts with Oregon mushroom guru Jack Czarnecki, and get links to more recipes at the bottom of the post.

No comments: