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  • Writer's pictureChef Kelly Unger

Chanterelle Mushrooms, if we get rain.

We are in the midst of the precarious chanterelle season. Chanterelle mushrooms are another foraged crop like ramps, grow in similar conditions and are equally exciting to chefs. Chanterelles are magical. Without doubt, chanterelles are my favorite mushroom. They have a faint apricot smell when raw and shred like chicken, with sort of a similar flavor to chicken. They’re gorgeous, a beautiful yellowy apricot color with lacy ruffled edges and a thick meaty body. Definitely deserving of an oil portrait with an expensive frame.

The chanterelle season is iffy due to the weather. They like a heat and rain combo. If it gets too dry or cools off, the season can be short. Chanterelles like to be sauteed in butter, it really enhances the flavor. And just about any recipe I make with them will start with sauteing the mushrooms with an onion in butter. Fresh onions are in season now too. Super juicy and milder in flavor, fresh onions are any mushroom's best friend. Cream of Chanterelle Soup and a Chanterelle and Brie Sandwich are a good place to start for the season. Leftover soup makes a great pasta sauce. Sauteing chanterelles with portobellos and an onion is a quick, easy and hearty topper for a rice bowl meal. I love garlic but when making chanterelle dishes, I don’t use garlic. I don’t want anything overpowering that distinctive chanterelle flavor. Green beans are in season too and Green Beans with Chanterelles in Cream Sauce is a nice dish. Lightly blanch your green beans, saute your chanterelles with onion, add some more butter to the pan and sprinkle over a little flour, toss everything and toast the flour for a minute to create a roux with the butter, add a little vegetable stock and stir to thicken the stock, thin the sauce to your preference with the addition of cream, add your green beans and allow them to warm through. Voila!

To clean chanterelles, I use a damp paper towel and brush off any dirt. Washing them in water may sometimes be necessary, and that’s fine. As long as you use them right after washing them. Don’t wash them until minutes before you put them in the saute pan. The same for any mushroom really. They will get water logged and won’t saute properly if you wash them too far in advance. Pat them dry as well to help them brown better.

So whatever dish you try, make sure the chanterelles are the star. Their meaty shredability will make that easy to accomplish. A good thick slice of toasted sourdough bread heaped high with sauteed chanterelles is all I need for dinner this time of year. Well, maybe a little cheese and wine too.

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