July 31, 2020

Joshua Galliano

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How to Make Your Chanterelles Last

A European-style recipe from a chef outside St. Louis

Wild chanterelle mushrooms begin to appear on menus at the sweltering height of summer. Although they may evoke images of chefs trudging through the woods, buckets in hand, they often come in from specialty foods companies. It’s easy to order a five-pound box of mushrooms with your jumbo lump crabmeat and sweet corn.

As a chef, I called my chanterelles wild, but I didn’t forage for them, so I didn’t understand what was necessary to get a mushroom from the woods to my kitchen. I did try to look for morels here and there, but with little luck. Then, one summer day, my father-in-law came over with a grocery bag full of mushrooms he’d found. He asked if any were good for eating, and we identified dryad’s saddles, green russulas, fawn mushrooms, and one lonely chanterelle. The morning after I identified the chanterelle, I opened the front door to a trash bag full of the coveted summertime mushrooms, which smell like apricot and taste like pepper and earth.

How to Make Your Chanterelles Last - Quote

A chanterelle from Illinois dirt is an entirely different thing—with big, undulating folds and a sweet aroma with a hint of grass just dampened by a garden hose—than one flown in from the Pacific Northwest.

With so many chanterelles on my hands, I had to come up with creative ways to preserve the bounty. In the middle of the typical summertime restaurant slowdown, I had time. This conserva, which I now use to preserve each year’s foraged summer mushrooms, doesn’t keep indefinitely, but it will extend a good chanterelle harvest. In the refrigerator, it will last long enough for a few meals—about three weeks. I like to pair it with semolina gnocchi, a lesser-known cousin to potato gnocchi that’s equally delicious and more forgiving for a home cook. It’s also good on pizza or grilled bread.

Before foraging for chanterelles, do your research. Consult a guidebook and connect with your local wild mushroom society. To go further down the rabbit hole, try mushroomexpert.com, which has witty descriptions and beautiful pictures of more than a thousand different mushrooms. Chanterelles typically grow in patches around trees, often oaks, and can pop in tall grass and under last year’s leaves in the days after a soaking rain. As you hunt for dinner, keep an eye on the underbrush. These mushrooms are typically most abundant when poison ivy is thick.

The harvest is worth the effort. A chanterelle from Illinois dirt is an entirely different thing—with big, undulating folds and a sweet aroma with a hint of grass just dampened by a garden hose—than one flown in from the Pacific Northwest.

Chanterelle Conserva

Makes 2 quarts

1 ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 whole garlic clove, peeled
Fresh herbs, as available from your garden or a local farmers’ market (Consider 1 sprig basil, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 sprig rosemary, 1 sprig sage)
¼  tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lb. chanterelles, cleaned, halved if large
2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium pot—at least 4 quarts—over medium-low heat, heat olive oil, herbs, and chili flakes to a bare simmer. Add mushrooms and maintain the temperature. Ensure that chanterelles remain covered with oil. Gently cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add vinegar, salt, and pepper. Turn off the heat and allow mushrooms to cool for about 45 minutes. Discard the garlic and transfer the mushrooms, oil, garlic, and herbs to a storage container. Refrigerate the conserva until ready to use. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.

Chanterelle Conserva with Salsa Rossa and Gnocchi alla Romana

Serves 6-8

The ingredients are quintessential summer, and colors are inspiring, from the deep red of the salsa rossa to the shades of gold that come from the gnocchi and the chanterelles. It’s like looking over a field of sunflowers and realizing that this moment can’t just happen any day of the year—that we are lucky to have this experience in front of us.

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Gnocchi alla Romana (recipe below)
Salsa Rossa (recipe below)
2 cups Chanterelle Conserva
Sartori Parmesan or Roth Kase Granqueso cheese, to taste

Place a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil. Once oil is almost smoking, add gnocchi to the pan, making sure not to overcrowd it. Sear gnocchi on all sides, until golden-brown and warmed throughout. Separately, warm the sauce and warm the chanterelles in their oil. Place a large spoonful of salsa rossa on a plate and top with a piece of gnocchi. Scoop chanterelles out of the oil and spoon them around the gnocchi. Repeat five times, for a total of six plates. There will be extra gnocchi, just in case one breaks. Grate cheese over the dish and serve.

Gnocchi alla Romana

1 quart milk
¼ onion, studded with cloves
Bouquet garni of bay leaf, parsley stems, and basil stems
1 heaping cup semolina flour
2 oz. Sartori Parmesan or Roth Kase Granqueso cheese cheese, finely grated
2 oz. butter
4 egg yolks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium pot over medium heat, infuse milk with onion and bouquet garni by bringing the milk to a bare simmer and then letting ingredients steep for 10 minutes. While the onion and herbs steep in the milk, prepare an 8-x-8 casserole dish by spraying it with cooking spray or greasing it with softened butter.

When the onion and bouquet garni are finished steeping, remove them and increase the heat to high. Add semolina to milk, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Once the semolina is fully incorporated, reduce heat to medium low. When the mixture resembles a stiff paste, turn the heat off. Stir in the cheese and butter, allow to cool for a few minutes. Next, add in the egg yolks, stirring constantly until combined. Scoop the mixture from the pot into the prepared casserole dish. Press down the mixture and smooth the top. Lay plastic wrap directly on top of the dough and allow to cool completely in the refrigerator.

When cooled, flip the gnocchi out of the casserole dish onto a cutting board. Cut the dough in half, then cut each half into four pieces for a total of eight pieces. Before serving, crisp gnocchi in a pan as described in the above recipe.

Salsa Rossa

¼ cup olive oil
8 canned piquillo or roasted red peppers, diced
1 jalapeno, red if possible, minced
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, cut into small dice
4 beefsteak tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp. basil, chopped
2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Sweat garlic and onion until onions are translucent. Add piquillo and jalapeno peppers to the pan and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Add tomatoes and cook for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat, add herbs, and season with salt and pepper.


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