feast of the chanterelles

March 26th, 2007

It’s not every day a half pound of freshly foraged chanterelle mushrooms just falls into your lap. Taking them out of their paper bag when I got home, I picked up a large mushroom and inhaled its heady earthiness. It smelled of wet leaves and dirt on the forest floor. I wanted to cook the mushrooms in so many ways, it was hard to settle on just a few dishes.

chanterelles and cheese

Following the advice of the chef (the guy who was buying the mushrooms from the forager), I made an appetizer by slicing a wedge of brie lengthwise and using it to sandwich thin slices of fresh chanterelle. I used Fromager d’Affinois, but any brie would work. (Odd, isn’t it, that the cheese is called “Cheesemonger of Affinois”?) The brie went into a small, well-buttered ramekin and baked in a 350° F oven for about 15 minutes.

I also experimented with some delicious French Munster cheese. I thinly sliced a very small cored apple, and placed some slices a the bottom of a well-buttered ramekin. Smeared some cheese on the apples, placed thin slices of chanterelle on the cheese, then more apples, and so on. I baked this in the oven along with the other ramekin for the same time period.

We ate these on their own after they had cooled down a bit. But I think they’d be even better on toast.

chanterelle crusted puréed potatoes

First, I chopped the mushrooms, slightly bigger than a dice. I chopped half an onion, but a couple of shallots would have been better (per the chef’s recommendations). I sautéed the onions in butter, then added the mushrooms, s and p to taste, and finished it off with some good Madeira wine.

I made an ordinary dish of puréed potatoes, using sour cream instead of milk or cream. After it had cooled somewhat, I added two small beaten eggs and mixed well. The pureed potatoes went into a medium-sized, buttered souffle dish. Then I topped the potatoes with a thin layer of the chanterelle-onion mixture. The crusted puree baked for about 40 minutes at 350° F.

The earthy chanterelles perfectly complemented the potato purée. I particularly enjoyed the contrasting textures of succulent mushrooms on a bed of pillowy potato.

veggies

I served the classic cabbage and apples with onions cooked in butter, with a splash of Madeira. I also prepared steamed, buttered stinging nettles.

chanterelle-stuffed pork loin

I used the rest of the chanterelle-onion mixture to stuff the pork loin. I had two large individual pork loins (serves 2 hungry people), but it would be easier to stuff one large loin. Luckily, the butcher had supplied me with sufficient string to secure the loins. I poked back any bits of mushroom that fell out as I stuffed the loins.

The loins were browned in butter on both sides in a hot cast-iron skillet. Then into the oven they went (350° F).

Following cooking, I deglazed the pan with more Madeira and a little butter and spooned a few drops of sauce on each loin. This was really a no-brainer—pork + chanterelles + Madeira wine = pleasure.

Serves 2, along with a glass each of Madeira wine

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