Wild-gathered and Wonderful
Diane Rezendes, food writer
The wild, golden Chanterelle mushroom is one of our absolute favorite mushrooms. They are one of the best wild mushrooms for making comfort dishes sing, especially when paired with a nice glass of Pinot Noir, and – like most good meals – shared in the company of people you love.
They’re in season now (the season for west coast chanterelles typically runs through February). We’re so crazy about the freshness of these earthy beauties that we’re taking delivery several times a week to ensure you get the very freshest, most satisfying Chanterelles available. Recent early rains should bring a nice crop.
Queen of the Forest, For a Pauper of a Price
Shop around for fresh, wild chanterelles, and you’ll find them for around $25 a pound – or maybe $20 if you are lucky. We have them in and we’re confident we have the best price around while they are on sale – just $15.95 a pound.
Chefs, as well as savvy home cooks, adore them for their superb flavor. The flavor is mild, but carries a slight pepper kick and a firm texture that won’t get lost in soups, stews, stir-fries and other entrees. Chanterelles pair especially well with butter, cream, eggs, and parsley. (We offer some more suggestions below.)
Part of what makes them so special is the fact that they only grow wild. Nicknamed ‘queen of the forest,’ Chanterelles have never been successfully cultivated at scale. They grow out of the root system of living trees such as pine, fir, spruce, hemlock, and oak. In fact, they thrive in old composting leaves on the forest floor.
We work closely with licensed gatherers who bring us their very best, collected from deep in the forest, ranging from coastal Oregon south through California. The specific locations of these trees and their savory bounty remain closely guarded secrets.
Cooking with Chanterelles
If you’re new to cooking with Chanterelles, here’s a quick guide that offers chef-recommended pairings.*
Main ingredients: chicken, eggs, fish, game, rabbit, shellfish, steak
Herbs and spices: most, but especially parsley, black pepper, tarragon
Aromatics: leeks, onions, shallots
Fats: butter, cream, olive oil
Of these, butter, cream, eggs, and parsley are considered the traditional can’t-miss combinations of flavors.
*This guide comes from Culinary Artistry by the James Beard Award-winning authors Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page (Wiley, 1996). Recommended, especially for menu planning with seasonally-appropriate ingredients and lots of tips from noted chefs.
Select them: Fresh Chanterelles are generally dry to the touch. You may detect a mild apricot-like scent. A mild scent means a mild flavor. See more tips from Robbie Sigona.
Clean them: Use a damp paper towel or clean bar cloth. Chanterelles are notorious for getting bits of dirt in the ridges – remember, they grow at the base of trees – so a pastry brush or soft toothbrush is good to have on hand.
Cook with them: New to Chanterelles? Try a simple sauté in butter with shallots and herbs, finished with a sprinkling of large-grain salt for a burst of flavor. Spoon it over pasta or steak, or just enjoy its hearty flavor on its own.
Robbie Sigona likes them over a slice of crusty grilled bread, grilled chicken breasts, or our wild Chanterelle mushroom risotto topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. And be sure to try Carmelo’s recipe for wild Chanterelle mushrooms with our locally-made fettuccini. You could even dry them and grind the chanterelles; use the powder to finish your favorite savory dish.