Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Deliciously Smooth -- Chanterelle Cream Sauce

One of the prettiest non-features of any mushroom is the smooth underside of Cantharellus lateritius or the aptly named smooth chanterelle. It grows in quite abundance around certain parts of Missouri and Mid-MO has its own hot spots. They are just starting to flush and the lack of rain has them coming on slowly yet in good numbers.

Although common chanterelles could easily be mistaken for the poisonous jack-o-lantern, the smooth underside provides certainty of the bountiful gourmet goodness that they bring, The smell is also a dead give away. If you get a lot of them together in a bag you'll notice this waxy light fruity smell instead of the usual pungent fungus smell of other mushrooms. Many guides describe the smell like apricots. And they taste the same way. Not like apricots, mind you, but unusual and unlike any other mushroom. They rival morels in taste in my own humble opinion, but then again I may not be that objective tonight, as I slathered a mess of sauteed chants over my KC strip for dinner.

Let me show you how easy these smooth fellows can make you into a gourmet. I was hungry and I found a great sale on steaks, but I wasn't thinking it through and so I didn't get anything to go with it. Now I have chanterelles, so I knew they were going in there - three different varieties in fact (common yellow and orange ones and of course smooths). I looked around and found an onion from the farmer's market and a little bit of cream left over from a batch of home-made ice cream for the 4th. I needed garlic but was out. I was about to turn to the powdered stuff when I remembered some garlic that had gone wild behind the house, so I went out and pulled some up. It was small but would do the trick.

And now for the recipe. Did I say that I do not believe in recipes and rarely follow one. That being said, be ready for long meandering explanations that you will have to translate onto your own recipe card if you want to preserve it. Also I am not a foodie and this is NOT a food blog. I just want to set the record straight.

Wednesday Night's Chanterelle Cream Sauce

Step one, pull the chanterelles into even pieces. You can cut them if you want, but I like the rougher look and it is just plain easier. Put a saute pan on medium heat and add just the tiniest bit of oil (preferably a light olive oil) to wet the pan.

Place the chanterelles in the pan and saute on medium stirring occasionally until they have reduced in size by half.

Add in some sliced onion, as much or as little as you like. Continue sauteing until the onion has just gotten translucent. Mince and add in the garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add in some cream. I was cooking for one here, so I started with only a handful of chants and I used about 1/3 cup of cream and some beef stock. I didn't have stock on hand because I grilled my steak, but I made some by cutting off 1/4 of a beef bullion cube and dissolving it in a 1/4 cup of water (if you want to slather this over chicken use chicken stock, etc.) Simmer on medium stirring often to reduce. Salt and pepper to taste.

When it has reduced enough it should be just about the consistency of that good old gravy at Thanksgiving.

Just at the end add small dab of butter, dissolve and stir for just 30 seconds. Pour it on and eat away. Be careful though it is very rich. I could not even finish my steak. Nothing better than these kind of leftovers.

You would pay $20 - 25 bucks for a steak like that in a restaurant. I know because I have. It just goes to show the rich rewards you can find in the woods if you can bear the heat and the bugs, oh and those dang spider webs. I think I hate the feeling of walking head-down, yet face first, into those sticky things most of all. However, it is well worth it.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Chanterelle Trail

Now some may ask where the heck this trail is, but this time of year if you dare to go out in the heat, in most wooded parks in Mid-MO you are bound to come along a patch or two of chanterelles.

In fact the one pictured to the left may be an as of yet unidentified type. It has the same size and stature of the common yellow cibarius-like chanterelle showing defined ridges, but it is the same orange color as a smooth chanterelle. I handed it off to a professional for proper identification and DNA testing. With the backlog though he said that it could be 4 to 6 years before he knows what it is for sure.

Anyway the nice meaty smooth chants were just starting last week, so for anyone who came on the weekend hunt, you should go back and start picking. The rains have them at about the perfect size and there are lots and lots of buttons of more to come.

Here are a few videos to get you wanting to grab a basket and hit the woods.