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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A plate of Southern fish and grits, made with tripletail.

Southern Fish and Grits

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

Read More
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.

Read More
dove breast recipe

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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37 Comments

  1. Just bumped into your blog looking for information on chestnut flour…

    I’ve bookedmarked for future reading.

    Always nice to bump into other food fanatics 🙂

  2. Why is it we Americans call these Chanterelles, when in France, these are called Girolles? What they call Chanterelles are more delicate mushrooms, with a very thin foot. They look more like trumpets.

  3. Charmed by the Chanties (such a perfect term of endearment for this beloved ‘shroom) all your variations look compelling, but that soup, sex-in-a-bowl-no-doubt, is what I want.
    mercifully, in Nashville, chanterelles are available at Whole Foods right now.
    inspiring post on one of my favorites, thank you!

  4. Nice mushroom primer! Just found the first chants of the season last week, looks like they’ve been coming up for awhile though, your area can’t be too far behind. Been up to my elbows in King boletes for the past week too, the season is off to a great start in the north bay.

  5. Ed: You will probably need to go into the Bay Area for chanterelles, although a really good supermarket (like Whole Foods) should have them. Check big farmer’s markets, too.

    Jessa: Chanterelle chips are better as garnish.

    E. Nassar: Apricots and chanterelles are indeed a beautiful match! I only added salt and olive oil to the squash when I cooked it.

    Jeff: Chanty beer, eh? Sporty…

  6. Chanterelle vodka sounds good, but chanterelle beer sounds better. Randy Mosher has a recipe for a chanterelle beer in his great book “radical Brewing” suggest you check it out! I wish we had great mushrooms down here in San Diego, too bad we live in a desert.

  7. I think it looks freaking awesome. I actually thought the butternut squash spheres were apricots before I read the post and thought “Oh cool, apricots+chanties. Works great”. Did you put anything else in the bags with the butternut squash when cooking them SV?

  8. I can report back that I wasn’t the greatest fan of eating them straight after roasting. But I followed some suggestions and ground them down 1:1 with sugar. The resulting powder is quite rich and aromatic. I definitely want more. (And it is easy enough to make.)

  9. Chantarelles are just barely up in the East Bay – this last rain ought to have done it, and we’ll be going out “for reals” sometime next week.

    Excited about chantarelle chips – good for snacking, or better as a garnish?

    We sautee our overabundance of chanties in butter and shallots and freeze them in ramekins (making frozen “pucks” for later use) – it’s great instant dip or soup mix for those last-minute “dear god what am I making? People are on their way” kind of days.

    Also very excited for Thursday – we finally get to try your cooking, instead of just drooling on the computer keyboard!

  10. Nice article. If I don’t yet forage myself, I am wondering if you know good local/regional sources to buy chanterelles. I am in Lake County, and they never seem to show up in the markets here.

  11. I takeback what I said about texture … I totally missed ‘plus crispy-fried wild turkey skin chicharones’ in my first reading … Great idea and should definitely take care of the texture contrasts. You sir are a master, and I can’t wait for Thursday night!

  12. I really dig the butternut squash balls done sous vide… what a great idea… I’m totally stealing it! The turkey roulades look perfect… I actually thought they were a set mousse they’re so well shaped. If I had one criticism to make it would be that I’d like to see a bit more contrasting texture there… but I think that would upset the visual appeal which right now is really clean and beautiful.

    Maybe a bowl of fried brussel sprout leaves, or zuchinni chip on the side would offer the contrasting texture without changing the aesthetics.

  13. That looks amazingly delicious, I’m off to the woods again soon so I’ll be keeping an eye out for some.
    SBW

  14. Off topic: we hiked on the peninsula (Los Trancos Woods) today and saw lots of Bay Laurel nuts coming off the trees. I picked some up and – bingo – they seem edible. The aromatic flesh is a bit too strong to eat more than nibbles. But the nuts are supposed to be quite good roasted. I did not collect enough, maybe 10, but will give it a try. Do you have any hands on experience with them? Supposedly good for making alternative chocolate. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umbellularia

  15. What do I think? I think I’m f^cking jealous.

    My only experience cooking with them was after a trip out to Corvallis, OR, a few years back. I brought a ‘box’ back in my checked luggage and played around with them. I didn’t buy enough. Hands down the most successful dish was a duck fat – chanterelle ragout.

  16. Chanties are out already in the San Luis Obispo area so I don’t think you’ll need much more rain. Oh, and regarding freezing chanties, it works great is sauteed first. My wife and I only just finished the last of the freezer stash and they’re popping up again. Talk about good timing!

  17. I’m thinking I need to go look for these suckers pretty soon. Nice post. Great ideas – I’ll totally try the vodka and picked shrooms. That reminds me I need to pickle some onions.

    See you in victory circle next week. Good luck. I’m stoked.

    marshall

  18. Oh yum yum yum. For me, chanterelles are up there with chocolate. Except, with chocolate I can almost immediately feel my thighs’ circumference growing larger. But chanterelles, well, I don’t have to worry about that too much. Too bad I can’t afford to eat them that way! Some day I will have a child who does not suffer car sickness, and I will figure out foraging for myself.

    I’ve known several chefs who freeze them in lieu of drying, as the drying seems to cause them to turn woody. Have you attempted this?