Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chanterelles, Butter & Garlic!


It's August and rains have been grand in the Rocky mountains. Chanterelles are popping up in outrageous abundance in shady forests by cascading streams.

Now, my field botany professor firmly put the fear of wild mushrooms in me. Most must be tested in the lab via spore print before any certainty of safety.

His mycology prof had taken the family on a jolly outing and they ate campfire champignons, or so he thought. The whole family died of mushroom poisoning. A very nasty way to go.

My professor said to stick with weird-looking fluted chanterelles and morels which don't impersonate anything else.

As an example, my organic farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains was rich in delectable puffball mushrooms. I NEVER sauteed one in butter without first slicing it in half: An immature death's angel will show its hidden mushroom form, in longitudinal section.

I hope you get my drift. Chanterelles are available in better groceries and farmers markets now and restaurants, gathered by knowledgeable wildcrafters. Enjoy them.

I have just engulfed a supper of golden chanterelles and, yes, I have wildcrafted them many times in Europe and Maine, where some are black in color, but these were gathered by my fave local farmer.

He had to drive fifteen miles north, then hike TEN miles up into high mountain meadows, Ponderosa pines and Douglas firs. Beautiful fragrant country, but it exceeded my current zeal. I willingly paid his price of $15/pound, cleaned. (They are a pain to clean, being full of evergreen needles and leaf mold as a rule.)

I came straight home, munching baby carrots and sungold cherry tomatoes. Here's what you do:

First dry-saute the chanterelles in a skillet to let any moisture puddle out, then add a pat of butter and pressed garlic. I used three smashed and minced cloves of garlic to 1/4 pound chanterelles.

Gently saute till garlic loses its raw smell; add thyme, about 1 tsp. fresh or 1/2 tsp dried, fresh-ground black pepper, a little Himalayan sea salt.

I ate them tucked into an omelet; with a side of peeled and sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar; a small glass of spiced red wine

For more kitchen craft and good eating, see:

  Wayfaring Traveler,
Organic Farm Stories & Recipes