Cooking Chanterelle Mushrooms

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A close up of chanterelles
Photo by Hank Shaw

I consider the chanterelle mushrooms to be the queen of all wild mushrooms, consort to the king of all mushrooms, the porcini. Chanterelles are the light to porcini’s dark — pheasant not beef, white wine, not red. Porcini are muscle, chanterelles finesse.

Here in California, our chanties arrive with the winter rains, but they should keep at it until at least March. Once our Western season ends, all you need to do is wait a couple months and they’ll start popping again in the East. Chanterelles are like that: They are always fruiting, somewhere in the world. Although we think of chanties as a North American-European mushroom, it also common in Asia, and is even found in some parts of Africa.

Over the decades, I’ve cooked chanterelle mushrooms six ways to Sunday, and, finally, I think I’m getting to know them as an ingredient.

For starters, chanterelles are firm, fibrous and generally free of bugs — at least in the West; Eastern chanterelle mushrooms can indeed get buggy. Their texture lets you slice them easily, or even pull them apart from top to stem. This means you can make chanterelle chips.

To make chanty chips, slice the mushrooms as thin as you can on a mandoline, then paint them with melted butter or oil, sprinkle with salt and broil. Keep an eye on the chanterelles or they will burn. Take them out of the broiler and let them dry in a warm oven or a dehydrator until crisp.

Dealing with abundance is an issue. If you are a forager, you can easily come home with 5 to 10 pounds on a good trip. Chanterelles store well in the fridge — I’ve done up to 10 days — but there is a limit. First, distribute some to your friends; they will love you forever.

If you dry chanterelles their fibrousness gets more pronounced, and the mushrooms get chewy. So chewy that they will need to be cooked an awful long time to avoid that “hey! I’m gnawing on shoe leather!” feeling you get from a lot of dried mushrooms. I rarely dry chanterelles any longer.

Dried chanterelles lose a lot of their flavor and aroma, however. If yo must dry them, use them in soups, braises or other long-cooking methods, or, do what professional forager Connie Green does in her new book, The Wild Table — she infuses vodka with dried chanties.

California chanterelles detail shot
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Is this not the coolest thing? The chanterelles were in the jar only a few hours when Holly took this picture — check out that color! Green only infuses her mushrooms in the vodka for one week, after which you strain the liquor through cheesecloth and bottle.

There are some flavor compounds in chanterelles that are alcohol-soluble, so this method makes sense. It is also why you really want to add a little booze to your chanterelles when you cook them in other ways. Cooking is about extracting flavor, and not everything is water soluble.

A better way to preserve chanterelle mushrooms is to pickle them.

pickled chanterelles in a jar
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Obviously the single best way to eat chanterelles is to saute them in butter. Yes, you can use other fats or oils, but, other than duck fat, I’ve not yet found another lipid that brings out the flavor of chanterelles quite as well. Again, there are a whole set of flavor compounds in chanties that are fat soluble, so you will want to extract them with something. My experience says to stick with butter.

What else goes well with chanterelles? Over the years I’ve come up with a list of chanty-friendly foods, supplemented by some other items listed in that great cooking guide, The Flavor Bible.

  • Butter, duck fat or olive oil
  • Chicken, turkey, pheasant, partridge, quail
  • Wild boar, rabbit or lean pork
  • Firm white fish, such as halibut or shark
  • Winter squash, potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Light stocks such as chicken, pheasant, rabbit
  • White wine, vermouth, gin, dry sherry
  • Cream, creme fraiche and cheese, especially dry cheeses
  • Bay leaves, thyme, parsley, garlic, chives, saffron

Chanterelles and cream are a natural, and the best expression of that I’ve come up with was my version of Auguste Escoffier’s Veloute Agnes Sorel, a cream of chanterelle soup. It is, as I have said before, sex in a bowl.

chanterelle soup recipe
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

But here’s the thing: If you scale back the amount of liquid in the soup you can make a chanterelle puree that is very much like the best mashed potatoes you’ve ever eaten.

The make chanterelle puree, you dry-saute chanterelles, then add butter and salt, a little thyme, shallots and one garlic clove. Let this saute until everything is soft. Move it all to a food processor and add just a little stock, maybe 1/4 cup. Buzz this well. It should still be pretty gunky. Loosen it with heavy cream and puree. Taste for salt and, if you want to get fancy, push it through a fine-mesh sieve. Absolutely heavenly.

This puree is not just a substitute for mashed potatoes. Use it as a ravioli or pierogi filling, or to stuff pasta shells or French crepes.

MORE CHANTERELLE MUSHROOM RECIPES

A bowl of chanterelle risotto.

Chanterelle Risotto

A fantastic, creamy rice dish studded with chanties and sweet corn.

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Southern Fish and Grits

A Southern classic, this version uses some chanterelle mushrooms to boost the flavor.

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mushroom pierogi recipe

Wild Mushroom Pierogi

A great use of chanterelles, especially those big ones that aren’t so pretty all by themselves. Chopped in pierogi, the flavor shines.

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Dove Breast Jagerschnitzel

Flattened cutlets of really any meat, dusted in flour, fried and served with chanterelles in a German sauce.

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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36 Comments

  1. I’ve been playing with sausage making for the last few months, your site has been immensely helpful. I like to forage too and will have lots of chanterelles and black trumpets to play with in a month or so. Do you have or recommend any sausage recipes that include and highlight mushrooms? Thanks in advance.

    1. Edwin: Yes, I’ve ground them in with the meat in small amounts, like maybe 1/4 pound in a 5 pound batch of sausage. Black trumpets are very good this way. I will sauté them first, then let them cool, then add to the grind.

  2. Wow,thanks Hank. Just got a nice sack last week and will do them justice Tonite!
    Great site you have here,
    The Sherpa…….Trinity County Ca

  3. I’m going to try these tonight in butter. How long do you normally saute chanterelles if only using butter?

    Thanks!

  4. getting about 10 or so every other day … i havnt gone hunting farther into the woods yet but chances are they are there.. going to start my oyster mushroom garden and the shiitake mushrooms too. they take 6 months to a year to produce.

  5. Just came across this page and wanted to say that here in Corvallis,OR, Chanterelles are in full “bloom”, and in very large form – I’ve found several this year that are almost 12″ across. I’ve found that while I mostly dehydrate them, you can also dry saute them (heads down on the skillet) and freeze them effectively. Porcini’s are also in bloom here now…always comes about for both these fungus to be coming up while I’m hunting, so I always come out of the woods with some! A great recipe that we enjoy regularly is one that uses chanterelles (diced/sliced into bite size), with 2 chicken bullion cubes, in one cup of water, add a cup of white wine (Pinot Gris/Grigio) as the second cup…season to your hearts content, heat (do not boil), add a cup or so of half & half, then thicken with a butter/flour rue…even better the second day.

    Thanks for the tip on the puree and ravioli, I now know what I’m trying this weekend, and I’m also taking your pickling recipe for a test drive, I love me some pickled anything!!!

  6. Last weekend I ran across several pounds of chanterelles in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state. After a few days of mushroom omelets for breakfast and sauteed mushrooms as a side dish at dinner, I cooked the recipe that you’ve posted for cream of chanterelle soup… mighty mighty tasty! My wife and I have found a new favorite 🙂

    Thanks for sharing with the masses!

  7. Chanterelles are my favorite mushroom.
    They do not have any worms or bugs and have the best flavor and texture.
    I have dabbled in foraging for money but the restaurants do not respect quality like you would think.
    There are very few things I have harvested that make me as happy as finding Grade A Chanties.
    Thank you Hank for such a wonderful blog and all the new ideas I have for my costal bounty.

  8. Jenn: LOL! Yeah, well, I never claimed to be a professional forager. I don’t sell to restaurants, and 5-10 pounds is MORE than enough for me!

  9. I’m sorry but – I just had to laugh – 5-10 pounds in a good trip? That’s a tourist, not a forager. When the flushes are in bloom, I can go out and return in under 2 hours with 40-60# of chanterelles from the East Bay hills… then it takes twice as long to clean them before I can shop them around to restaurants….

  10. Looking for great mushroom recipes, some folks who would like to share their mushrooming knowledge and possibly some mushrooming adventures when shrooms are in season again.

  11. I’ve had good luck sauteeing and freezing chanterelles in butter — keeps them from getting frostbitten. Just pulled some out the other day for our post-Thanksgiving turkey pot pie and they were delicious. Did the same with some oysters and they were fabulous on last night’s pizza (which I got all to myself since my bf only likes morels). I’ve also had great success pickling larger oyster mushrooms — they’re fabulous in a lunchtime nori roll …