Chanterelle season is winding down here in WA state. The coast is still kicking some out, but with low temps and more rain they’re not the firm, dry chants of earlier. In a couple weeks I’ll head south to the Rogue River Canyon country of southwest Oregon to catch the last gasp of the PNW ‘shroom harvest (and maybe a steelhead or two), then it’s time to put away the basket and start cooking all sorts of winter comfort foods with the fungal stash.
One of my favorites for hearty meat dishes and pasta sauces is the white chanterelle. Everyone is familiar with the golden chanterelle in its many guises (Cantharellus formosus, Cantharellus cibarius, et al), known as girolle in France and pfifferling in Germany. In the Pacific Northwest we’re blessed with another species of Cantharellus that some consider even tastier, the white chanterelle (Cantharellus subalbidus).
White chants are found on both sides of the Cascades in similar habitat as goldens, although in drier climates they’re often the dominant chanterelle. They tend to grow in clusters beneath the duff and often require excavation. My own experience suggests that white chanterelles are even more delicious than their golden cousins. They’re more aromatic (despite what Mykoweb says), meatier, and seem to endure more prolonged storage in the fridge. I save whites for my favorite dishes.
Chicken with Boozy Chanterelle Sauce
Here’s one adapted from Jane Grigson’s Mushroom Feast, which she calls Poulet aux Girolles. You can eyeball the amounts according to your own tastes. Mrs. Finspot likes this recipe because it’s not necessary to use a lot of cream to get good flavor.
2 lbs chicken thighs
1 lb white chanterelles (or goldens), chopped
2 shallots, diced
Brown chicken on both sides in a few tablespoons of butter, then add diced shallots. Cook until shallots are soft and translucent. Deglaze with a good splash of cognac (1/4 cup or so) and turn chicken again, then pour a splash of port (again, around a 1/4 cup). Scrape pan well so all the chicken bits are mixed into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Add a 1/4 cup or more of stock and stir, then an equal amount of cream. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for a half-hour. Meanwhile in another pan, saute chanterelles in butter over medium-high heat, careful not to overcook. When the chicken is fully cooked and tender, remove to a covered dish. Raise heat and cook sauce down as desired, adding chanterelles for final minute or two of cooking. Lay chicken over rice pilaf and pour sauce over. Serves 2, with leftovers.
P.S. Apologies for the lame photo below. My main light source in the house, an old standup lamp, was summarily kicked over and stomped by the drunken midgets that routinely take this place by storm (i.e. the kids). This year I’m asking Santa for a digital SLR so I can banish these low-light dinnertime blues once and for all.