January 11, 2013

Chanterelle Mushrooms

Chanterelles

In my everyday cooking, when a recipe calls for mushrooms, I typically buy the white button variety.  They seem to be the most common variety available in supermarkets here in my city.  Once in a while, I will venture out and try different varieties: cremini, enoki, shitake and very rarely the big ole portobello, but my usual weekly mushroom purchase is still the white button kind.

But this last fall, when we were living in Austria, I hit the local supermarket and saw these beauties.  I stared at them, not sure what variety they were. An Austrian friend happened to come into the grocery store at this perfect moment and tell me that I must try these. "Eierschwammerl", as they are called in Austria or "Echter Pfifferling" if you are in Germany but in the English and French speaking countries, they are called Chanterelles. 

While I was translating Eierschwammerl to Chanterelles, I stumbled upon sites that explained that they are worth their weight in gold because Chanterelles can not be cultivated indoors but must be foraged in the wild.     Their trumpet shape, meaty texture and subtle earthy flavor is quite coveted by chefs and foodies around the world.  And to think, I paid peanuts for them! Oh, how I miss Austria for the very reasonable cost of food.
   
Sauteed Chanterelles with creme fraiche and chives

Cleaning these lovely Chanterelles can be quite the feat since dirt and other small particles are found strongly clinging within the gills. I dry brushed off as much as I could but eventually had to rinse off the rest with water. Dry them up with a cloth, or leave them to air dry for a short time. 

My friend recommended that I slice lengthwise into thin slices, making sure to cut off the dry stem ends first, and saute them in butter and garlic until golden brown. Something I found was that Chanterelles have quite the moisture content, so it will take quite some time to boil off the excess liquid.  Make sure you boil it off over medium heat but watch that they don't burn.  Depending how many mushrooms you are sauteeing in your pan, this can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes!  Remove them from the heat, allow them to cool a little and then blend them with creme fraiche and sprinkle with chives. 

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