Editor's note: Artisan Cuisine will again be published monthly after Anne Boulley took a brief hiatus.
Chanterelle season is just starting in Northern California.
I love any food that can be found while taking walks out in the woods. But, even if you're not the foraging type, you can still find chanterelles for sale at the farmer's markets and through some grocery stores while they're available.
They certainly offer a beautiful addition to any recipe, elevating dishes that usually contain button mushrooms.
I hope to have some for Thanksgiving and so I'm preserving them two different ways so I can have them at my disposal.
I've decided not to dry them like I have morel mushrooms. I don't like dried chanterelles. They never seem to get soft enough with rehydrating and I want to keep the integrity of the mushrooms' flavor and beauty as much as possible.
My two techniques are:
andbull; Sauteeing with butter and then freezing.
I often prepare mushrooms with an olive oil and butter saute, so it makes sense to do this and have them ready to add to soup, stuffing or other dishes.
What you do for both preparations is to first clean the chanterelles. I like to use a clean toothbrush and brush away dirt and pieces of leaves, etc., that get trapped in the undersides (gills) of the chanterelles.
Cut the larger ones into smaller bits and add to a hot saute pan that is coated with a thin coat of olive or grapeseed oil. Heat for a couple minutes, then add a pat or two of butter.
Continue to cook until they are "almost" ready. Let cool and pack into freezer containers and freeze for up to six months.
When ready to use, just pop them back into a saute pan and heat till done.
Pickling is fairly easy. You stuff the chanterelles into a canning jar, make a pickling brine, heat it, then pour over the chanterelles. Then keep them in the fridge or can them for 20 minutes in a water bath to make them shelf stable. A recipe can be found here:
Most important is to at least enjoy them while they're in season. I recently stuffed some roasted eight-ball zucchini with fregola pasta (quinoa or couscous would be good, too), chanterelles, summer squash, red peppers and other veggies.
You could do a stir fry over rice or make pickled chanterelles to go on a cheese tray. Get creative and celebrate the bounty of the season and treat yourself to the beautiful, delicious chanterelle.
Anne Boulley is a local chef and culinary instructor with a passion for artisan foods. For more information about her cooking classes and catering services, go to thegourmetguide.com.