Let’s get the Health & Safety over with first: you are taking a risk when foraging for wild mushrooms (or anything that grows in the wild for that matter), but it would be a shame if we stopped eating them.
Please be very, very careful about what you collect! Many edible mushrooms are so surprisingly similar to toxic varieties that only an experienced professional can tell the difference. Yes, cooking does destroy some poisons, but rather learn how to identify a few edible species and pick only them. If you have the slightest doubt about what you are looking at, leave it alone!
And now with that out of the way: chanterelles.
Found from July through December, these yellow, funnel-shaped beauties with gill-like ridges emit a distinct fruity aroma and have a mild, slightly peppery taste. Chanterelles were notable for being served at the tables of nobility, and many chefs consider them on the same short list of gourmet fungi as truffles. No wonder the price they sell for…
Chanterelles are well-suited for drying and freezing so if you got lucky foraging, you can save some for later. I had a serving in my freezer from the last time my uncle called my father with the news there are basketfuls at one of his secret locations. I do consider myself lucky.
The most flavorful compounds in chanterelles are fat-soluble, making them good mushrooms to sauté in butter, or the key ingredient in a creamy sauce and so the dish I made truly does them justice: a warm, creamy, rich risotto going hard on the cream and the parmesan, topped with my chanterelles sautéed in butter.
Yup, if you’re on a low-on-everything diet, better leave now. I warned you!
Having the basic risotto recipe mastered and up your sleeve will give you so many opportunities when it comes to quick and tasty meals. You can top it with whatever is lying on the pantry shelf/withering away in the fridge, it’s a really versatile dish. The only mild frustration is you have to be present all the way through the roughly 25 minutes of cooking.
Rich, creamy and satisfying risotto with fruity sautéed wild chanterelles. Serves 4.
For the sautéed mushrooms:
2 cups chanterelles
3 tbsp butter
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
For the risotto:
1 l (4 cups) simmering vegetable or chicken stock
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
280 g (about 1 1/2 cup) arborio or other risotto rice
150 ml (2/3 cup) dry white wine
3/4 cup grated Parmesan or Grans Padano
200 ml cooking cream (20%)
salt and pepper to taste
- Clean the mushrooms by gently rubbing the dirt off or rinsing them quickly under running water. Let dry on a paper towel.
- Bring stock to a slow simmer.
- Heat butter over medium-high heat in a heavy bottomed pan big enough to accommodate the mushrooms in a single layer.
- Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper, stir to evenly coat with butter. You should hear the mushrooms sizzling. In 1-2 minutes the mushrooms will start to release their moisture.
- Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms start to turn darker, about 5-8 minutes.
- Sprinkle parsley over mushrooms, set aside.
- For the risotto, heat butter and olive oil in a deep heavy bottomed pan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to turn golden. Add garlic and stir.
- Add rice and mix to coat in oil and butter. Cook, stirring, until grains are translucent, 2-3 min.
- Add the wine and cook for 1 min, until reduced.
- Reduce heat. Gradually add stock, a ladleful at a time. Stir constantly and add more liquid as the rice absorbs each addition. Liquid should be bubbling between additions.
- Continue cooking like this for 20 min, or until all the stock is absorbed and rice is creamy. Season to taste (note that stock might be quite salty).
- Remove from heat and add cream. Mix well.
- Add Parmesan, stirring until it melts.
- Put a scoop of risotto on each plate, add sautéed chanterelles on top. Garnish with more parsley and freshly ground pepper if desired. Serve at once. Enjoy!