It's chanterelle season here in the PNW. I'm sure I've talked about my love of chanterelles before, and that time I booked a 3-day weekend getaway with the local mycological society to learn how to forage chanterelles in the wild and it turned out to be a total disaster and I was then turned off of mushrooms for a year. My take-home notes from the workshop were as follows: foraging for mushrooms is terrifying. There are a lot of look-alike mushrooms, and if you don't feel 100% confident in your identifications skills than you probably shouldn't be foraging for mushrooms.
Chanterelle mushrooms are the diamonds of the mushroom world. They grow under pine needles and leaves at the base of trees, particularly the Douglas-fir and western hemlock in the PNW. They have a symbiotic relationship with trees, whereas the trees provide photosynthesized carbohydrates for the chanterelles and the chanterelles gather moisture and provide minerals to the trees. This special relationship is why it is almost impossible to grow them commercially, although I am sure someone out there is probably trying. Because they are so difficult to find in the wild, people are very secretive about chanterelle spotting, and why they are $20 a pound. Needless to say, we didn't find any chanterelles during the workshop, and our very junior guide sent us home with what he thought were Maitakes and we all got sick.
Last week I was perusing the grocery store produce section and I stumbled upon of large box of fresh chanterelles. Beaming with joy, I filled a brown paper bag and brought them home. My favorite way to enjoy chanterelles is in a risotto or pasta, where you can add a lot of richness - cream, butter, and cheese. All those good things. To me, mushrooms are best when they are incorporated into some creamy. If you think about all your favorite mushroom recipes, I'm sure they involve some sort of richness - soup, pasta, risotto, eggs.
This risotto has so much flavor from the broth, cheese, and mushrooms. I like to add a bit of broth on top at the end to give it more of a slurpy consistency. The mushrooms are really quite meaty, which provides a substantial quality. The basil is fresh and peppery and compliments the ingredients well. I'm hoping that I can make a few more batches before the season is over.
prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 30 minutes
1 tbsp butter
1/4 yellow onion, diced
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 cup broth
2 cups Chanterelle mushrooms
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
grated Parmesan cheese
With a damp paper towel, clean the mushrooms. Chop them into bite size pieces. Set to the side.
Heat the broth in a saucepan until warm.
In a large frying pan or wok, heat the butter on medium - high heat.
Add the onions and sauté until translucent.
Add the garlic and sauté for a minute until fragrant, but not brown.
Add the Arborio rice and cook for a minute.
Add the white wine. Continue to stir the risotto until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.
Add a ladle of the broth and continue to stir until it has been absorbed. Continue adding broth and stirring until all of the broth has been used, and the rice is soft and tender.
In a separate pan, fry the mushrooms in a bit of butter on low heat for a minute or two until soft. Alternatively, you can cook the mushrooms in the risotto. Add them when you have half of the broth remaining.
Add the cheddar cheese to the risotto and combine. Serve with chanterelles layered on top, and suggested garnishes.