Long time no post, I am impressed by my capacity to prevaricate, but I have been a busy boy on the cooking front just not go round to doing any posts. So after a bit of a break here we go!
The hunting season started a couple of weeks ago, the sight of slightly overweight middle aged men dressed in green or dodgy camouflage gear trundling around the French countryside taking pot shots at the wild life through a glaze of Eau De Vie will be a common sight for the next few months.
Not to be out done I thought I get into a bit of hunting myself and managed to search out my quarry of Girolle or Summer Chanterelle mushrooms, a lovely prized mushroom that is available potentially from late summer until the first frosts. A picture of my booty is in this post, there’s about 1.5 kilos in that first find, and I’ve found another couple of kilo’s in other sorties. The weather has been hot and dry until recently so it hasn’t been the best hunting weather, but recent rains may have encouraged another flush, I will have to go and look!
Chanterelles are rich in flavour, with a distinctive taste and aroma which is earthy with a hint of apricot. The summer chanterelle is perhaps the most sought-after and flavourful chanterelle, and many chefs and foodies will place it on the same short list of gourmet fungi as truffles and morels. It therefore tends to command a high price in both restaurants and shops, currently chanterelles are selling for about 20 Euros a kilo, picking your own is definitely a good idea.
Chanterelles grow symbiotically with trees and will show in groups or even in troops of hundreds of fruiting bodies (if you are very very lucky). The have a couple of looky likies but nothing that cannot be identified with a bit of care. The symbiotic relationship with trees means that it is impossible to grow a chanterelle commercially; therefore the mushroom is strictly seasonal and generally expensive. Chanterelles will flush after some rain and prefer moist mossy places, so ground near water, ditches or lower lying land are good place to look.
Chanterelles keep well, a week easily in a fridge and are easily dried or preserved in oil or brine, but my preferred method is open freezing, it is quick easy and personally I think hold the flavour better than other methods.
Chanterelles in general go well with eggs, chicken, pork, and fish in general nothing too strongly flavoured such as a beef stew as their delicate taste will be overwhelmed. Cooking chanterelles requires a little care; they hold a fair bit of water and can be a bit tough if they are not properly cooked through. The best and easiest methods in my opinion is to dry sauté them then add to a dish as necessary but a range of other methods are successful as long as the chanterelle has 10 minutes or so to cook out, it’s not an ingredient well suited to a quick stir fry.
The best way of cooking Chanterelles is the way you prefer but it is worth knowing that most of the flavour compounds are soluble in fat, making them good mushrooms to sauté in butter, oil or cream. They also contain smaller amounts of water- and alcohol-soluble flavourings, which lend the mushrooms well to recipes involving wine or other alcohols, hence the classic vodka flavoured with Chanterelles.
Given that I had a relatively larger amount of mushrooms available, what should I cook to celebrate? Well a nice simple soup, indulgent in the amount of Chanterelles required but simple enough to ensure the delicately flavoured mushroom can be enjoyed at its best.
- 1 Large Cep mushrooms fresh or dried
- 400 gms Chanterelles
- 1 Onion finely chopped
- 20 gms salted butter
- 0.5 litres of chicken or vegetable stock.
- 200 ml Creme fraiche
Reconstitute the dried cep if using by soaking in warm water/stock for 20 minutes. Roughly chop the cep and chanterelles. Gently suate the mushrooms and onions with the butter for a few minutes. Add the stock and simmer for 15 minutes.Add salt and pepper to taste and add the creme fraiche and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Liquidise the ingredients , check the seasoning and serve hot.
That’s it, I don’t think it could be easier if you tried, I made a double quantity, little treats for the oncoming cold weather hmmm.