When browsing the farmers market, chanterelle mushrooms always warrant a second look. These wild mushrooms thrive in forests around the U.S., and with their deep golden yellow color and delicate edges, they could almost be mistaken for a flower. Upon closer inspection, their true mushroom identity is revealed leading way to the question, “How do I cook these?”
The texture, flavor and color of the chanterelle mushroom provides the opportunity for enjoyable culinary creations. There are several things to consider as you select and prepare them. These tips will help you navigate your purchase and tackle the task of cooking these delicious mushrooms once you’re back in the kitchen.
Shopping for Chanterelles
Delicious recipes start with the freshest ingredients. Chanterelles can be found year-round, but their peak season is autumn. Their aroma is often described as peach or apricot, so choose those that are the most fragrant. The color should be golden, also like an apricot. Inspect the mushrooms and skip those that have slimy or dark patches or that show any signs of rotting.
Clean Before You Cook
Chanterelles have tight crevices that hold on to dirt, so take special care when cleaning them. A brush and water can be helpful for washing, but you can also cut them before wiping them down with a wet rag to reach trapped debris. As a general rule, use as little water as possible and avoid soaking the mushrooms. Chanterelles act like sponges when exposed to moisture. This causes the mushroom to absorb excess water and become slimy. Pat them dry to remove any excess water after cleaning.
Both the cap and stem of the chanterelle are edible, and the simplest way to prepare them is sautéed or baked. When cooked in these ways, they can be combined with basics, like minced garlic and butter to make a simple side dish for grilled meat, roasted poultry or fish.
To sauté chanterelles, chop about a 1/2 pound into bite-sized pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet and cook the mushrooms until they become tender, about 10 minutes. For crispier mushrooms, you can continue to cook until you see the edges begin to crisp up and dry out. For preparation in the oven, 1 pound of chanterelles can be chopped and combined with chopped onion and about 1/2 cup of liquid like chicken stock. Bake in a covered dish for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. If you oversaturate the mushrooms during cleaning, cooking times may need to be increased to help the moisture evaporate.
Creating the Perfect Pairing
If you’d like to get more creative with chanterelles, keep their delicate flavor in mind. While they have a meaty, almost chewy, texture, their flavor is lightly fruity. While they rarely overpower a dish, they can easily be overpowered by other ingredients. The key is to find simple ways to prepare them that enhance their flavor, instead of hiding it.
Cream or half-and-half blends well with the delicate flavors of the sautéed mushrooms and can be used to create rich sauces for pasta or rice. Chopped chanterelles pair well with eggs making them a delicious addition to quiches and omelets. Their earthy, fruity flavor is also complemented when combined with other wild mushrooms, and they can be added to mildly flavored roasted vegetable dishes. The earthy notes of the mushrooms makes them a good match for herbs like sage, rosemary and thyme, but don’t use too much to avoid overpowering the subtle flavor. The fruitiness also makes chanterelles a nice match for creamy goat cheese. For a delicious fall side dish, consider roasting vegetables and chanterelles with thyme and dot with goat cheese before serving.