It’s a known fact that chefs prize chanterelles more than any other mushrooms. In one of the cookbooks that I own (I forget which one), the chef/author instructs: “If you ever see chanterelles, buy them.”
And so it was that when I first saw chanterelles at the Hollywood farmer’s market more than a week ago, I kind of freaked out. I froze. I was like, “Oh my God! I’m supposed to buy these!” But a small bag of them cost $10 and I felt scared. So I didn’t buy them, mentioned the experience on Twitter, and my followers scolded me. Chef Sara Jenkins Tweeted to me, “So easy to cook! Saute w/ butter, thyme, parsley, toss w/ penne and parmigiano! Easy!” Emboldened, I made a point to buy chanterelles the next time that I saw them; and sure enough, this past Sunday, that’s precisely what I did.
Here’s the $10 bag of chanterelles on my kitchen table:
As I considered my options, I ruled out Chef Jenkins’ suggestion for penne simply because I cook pasta way too often. I think my blood runs pasta, I make it so much; I wanted to try something different.
I remembered a post I did a while back–Creamed Mushrooms on Toast–and decided to use some of the leftover whole wheat La Brea bakery bread to do something similar with the chanterelles. Only, I wouldn’t cream them; I’d just saute them in olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper and add garlic, parsley and lemon juice at the end.
And that’s precisely what I did.
First, I cleaned the chanterelles with a damp paper towel (you don’t want to rinse them; they’ll soak up that water like a sponge) and sliced them into thick slices:
Then, in a large non-stick skillet, I headed a big splash of olive oil on high heat. When it was really hot, I added all of the mushrooms at once with a big pinch of salt:
I expected lots of liquid to come out, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the chanterelles neatly darkened, giving off a lovely aroma. At the end, I added 2 cloves of chopped garlic, a big sprinkling of parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice:
While all of this was happening, I toasted some bread in my broiler and when it came out, I spread some goat cheese on top. Then I piled the chanterelles on top of that and, behold!
Here’s the thing. I made a mistake. Garlic wasn’t the way to go; it was overwhelming. So was the lemon juice.
If I had to do it again, I’d follow Chef Jenkins’ instructions and saute them in butter with thyme and parsley. That way the mushroom flavor itself would be the star.
Still, we enjoyed these garlicky, lemony chanterelles–especially for their texture. They didn’t shrink and shrivel, the way normal mushrooms do. They kept their structures and were nicely meaty (as well as beautiful) on top of the goat cheesed toast.
And, most importantly, I demystified chanterelles! Now I’ll be buying them more often and, don’t worry, next time, I’ll cook ’em right.