Sautéed chanterelles with cream and linguine fini
Linguine with foraged chanterelles from Seattle, cooked in Chicago.
The day before Marion cooked these chanterelles in our Chicago kitchen, they were in a stall in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Not much more before that, they had been in a nearby forest. We were in the market on the last morning of our first visit to the Pacific Northwest. Our luggage was already overstuffed with food purchases, many in glass containers padded with laundry in the hope they would survive the flight home. But when we saw these mushrooms, we knew we had to squeeze some into our carry-on bags. I’ll turn the kitchen over to Marion now and let her tell you what she did with them.Skip to next paragraph
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In another earlier life, I used to gather chanterelles in the wild all summer. It was such an everyday thing that I took it totally for granted. It was part of the season, like swimsuits and the beach. I would be driving along some gravel country road through a spruce forest, and pull the car over, grab a bag or basket and walk around for 20 or 30 minutes until I had found enough.
Species of chanterelle grow across North America and Europe. Here in the Midwest, golden chanterelles are available in summer; in the Pacific Northwest, they fruit from about September to March. Closely related species may be gathered in Europe, too. They can’t be cultivated, so every chanterelle you see in a market has been foraged in the wild. Throughout their range, the best place to find them is under conifers. In Nova Scotia, I used to find them under spruce and hemlock. I hear that in some parts of North America, such as Texas and California, they associate with oaks.
Which reminds me to advise you to exercise caution whenever you are mushroom hunting – the chanterelle is very distinctive, but there are fairly similar species, such as the Jack o’Lantern, which can make you sick. And of course when you are wandering in the woods, pay attention to where you are – especially in the wide-open West, bring a compass, watch for landmarks, remain aware of your location and your footing, and avoid crossing into places where you can get into a jam.
The availability of chanterelles here in the Midwest is pretty modest. In the Pacific Northwest, it is easier to forage for them, or you can find them at farmers markets absolutely all over. (Sometimes even Costco sells them.) At Sosio’s Produce stand in Seattle's Pike Place Market, we paid about $11 a pound for these, which sounds like an awful lot, except that in the summer, when I saw some not very attractive dryish specimens at a farmers market here in Chicago, the price was $36 a pound. Wowser.
There are many, many ways to use these wonderful mushrooms. Roast them in olive oil with finely minced onion and sage. Sauté them with bacon and then add them to a frittata. Stuff them into ravioli. Use them in a simple sauce to serve alongside a roast chicken or bistro steaks. You can also dry them (gently, at about 145 degrees F. to 150 degrees F. in the oven, or in a very hot sunroom or garage). Pickle them. And once they are sautéed, you may freeze them and thaw later with only slight flavor loss.