The Oregon fall rain has begun, and last weekend my friend Hannah and I explored the forests looking for these beautiful, if elusive, mushrooms. Chanterelle mushrooms ( as I discovered from reading her extensive book on mushroom hunting) are usually orange or yellow in color, meaty and funnel shaped. Finding them proved to be a lot more difficult than we imagined, but we are keeping our hopes up that the continuous rain that falls in the great Pacific Northwest will yield more of a bounty.
Our tromps through the trail (and often off of it) revealed a variety of mushrooms, these chanterelles were found very quickly on and after four more hours we were sad to report that only one spot was discovered. I also finally understood the protective to the point of ridiculous attitude of the mushroom hunter. It was like a very slow discovery channel of predator vs. prey, with anyone else who may have had the misfortune to wander into what had quickly become MY forest being subjected to evil eye glares and curt, uninformative answers about the riches we were looking for. Other mushroom we found were the earth star mushrooms (pictured below on the right, picture courtesy of shroomery.org), and a lobster mushroom. Hannah informed me that the lobster mushroom was shaped that way because of a bacteria inside of it. During our cooking (by our I mean I drank wine and watched Hannah make me a delicious dinner) we opted out of eating a mushroom that smelled of beach towns.
The guide recommended washing as much of the dirt off as we could in the field, but lucky for us we were so excited by playing in the dirt and mud that we completely ignored this advice and just put the mushrooms into our bag resulting in what was a tedious process of cleansing the dirt off of the mushrooms before cooking. Hannah cooked the mushroom in a white wine and butter reduction sauce, with some garlic, ginger, and a multitude of herbs. The result was a delicious, flavorful sauce with mushrooms that had nothing to do with the generic bland ones that you often see in grocery stores. The four hours of woodsy exploration paid off.
Some pointers for when cooking mushrooms- these little guys absorb water very quickly, which tends to leave them soggy and tasteless. To avoid this, try and shake off as much of the dirt as possible before quickly rinsing and then patting them dry. Also, to let the flavors of your saute take hold of them, don’t mess around with the mushrooms too much in the pan. Rather, let the heat sit at a medium temperature and allow the mushrooms to brown nicely. This will ensure that they keep their texture.
This is a recipe that was adapted from Hannah’s head to paper… and loosely translated. Mushrooms are delicious and there is no end to the things you can cook them with… feel free to explore.
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces fresh chanterelle mushrooms, quartered if large
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
- 1 garlic clove, minced
Melt butter with oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add shallot and garlic; sauté 2 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve over rice or pasta, alongside some more wine & salad.