Thursday, October 30, 2008

White Chanterelles

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
chicken stock
heavy cream

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.


drfugawe said...

Finny, I share your love of white chants, but our season here in SW OR never did get going this year. We had an inch of rain in late Aug, another 2" a month later, and then no more rain! That created 2 false starts with mininal bloom, but no real fruitings. Some are still waiting, but I think chants are not showing this year in my neighborhood.

Langdon Cook said...

How about edulis, Dr? I'm hoping restock my supply of dried kings in a couple weeks when I head down to the Rogue.

ladyflyfsh said...

fin, coastal boletes are not showing in any kind of quantity at all this year. I was over a week ago and found only a handful. The rains, just as drfugawe said, have come too little too late. It's not a good edulis year here unfortunately. It is for sure damper to the north than southern Oregon. They have had he least amount of rain.

drfugawe said...

The Rogue is a bit south of my reg pickin ground, but if it's similar to up here, the boletes are more plentiful nearer the coast. I met an old guy last year who said that years ago he was a pro picker near Agness (an interesting town about 25 miles from the coast), he said that the hedgehogs were huge around there! But they show after it gets colder, and you'd rather have a warm week while you fish - right?

Anonymous said...

I'll try this recipe with chanterelles, golden, from my Farmer's Market. Sounds absolutely delicious. Dinnertime photos, ah yes. It gets tricky in the winter doesn't it? Do I cook mid-afternoon in order to photograph w/a little light, or when we're actually ready to eat it? Almost always the latter, so I understand your low-light lament.

Langdon Cook said...

Drfugawe & Ladyfish: Thanks for the reports. Maybe it's a wrap for the southern OR coast this year; then again, a late flush is always possible. Dr., yer stomping grounds are just a drainage over from mine. I've never experienced the hedgehog season there b/c by the time hogs are popping, the pass is under six feet of snow and the cabin put to bed for the winter. Do you eat Amanita calyptrata, also called A. lanei? It's all over the Rogue, and very tasty--provided you're sure of yr identification.

Sally: How much are you getting chants for this time of year?

Cheers everyone!

Anonymous said...

I finally broke down and bought some lights that are pretty inexpensive and very portable. Given the lack of light we're headed for and the inconvenience of cooking dinner at noon just so I can photograph, it made sense. Hope you get a digital SLR because your photos are already awesome and will only get better.

Anonymous said...

so why does everything you make include heavy cream?

Unknown said...

I just found a ton of whites in Washington, glad to know they are good! I was surprised when I saw them because they were huge and I had never seen whites, some bases over 3" wide. Thanks for the info.