Chanterelles or Girolles in France have a short season usually from September to October. Probably brought here by boat from mainland Europe a couple of hundred years ago, they are now native here in Scotland. When I was young, we used to go foraging for them in Argyll and Lochaber. I was introduced to their delicious taste by German family friends who made the most delicious home-made square sliced Pizzas which are popular in their home town, Munich. A simple base with rich Italian sugo (a splash of vinegar/sprinkle of sugar) with herbs and the Chanterelles on top and no cheese. I was 12 years old and was also my first introduction to foraging for dinner. So, heres a quick & easy guide to enjoying these, my favourite mushrooms, the golden Chanterelle – the original fast food.
Chanterelles pan-fried in butter and fino sherry served on herb salad makes a delicious starter or lunch. Fast food in seconds at its best.
Chanterelles Crostini – Garlic rubbed grilled bread with butter pan-fried Chanterelles topped with a Balsamic syrup.
Pasta with Chanterelles and Italian sausage in a rich sugo sauce makes a fantastic dinner. Easy to make and versatile Chanterelles can be used in many pasta dishes.
Chanterelles mushroom Risotto – Risotto, easy when you know how: use a small cup of arborio rice per person. Fry an onion, garlic, add rice, half a cup of Dry Martini, season and cook for 5 minutes. Then slowly add 500ml of stock a little at a time for another 15 minutes, letting the rice absorb the liquid. Near the end fold in a knob of butter to add a creamy texture. Lightly pan fry the Chanterelles in a separate pan in butter & lemon juice and add to the risotto at the last minute.
Where it all started for me: Chanterelles no-cheese Pizza. Make a large thin pizza base to fit an oven tray, spread a rich tangy Italian sugo with Herbs de Provence or Oregano, cook until crispy and top with lightly pan-fried Chanterelle mushrooms and finish in the oven . The flavour combination blew my limited Scottish palate away the first I tried it when staying in the Scottish highlands.
Have you seen Chanterelles in restaurants, deli’s or supermarkets? Rarely, but why? Although a relatively short season, they grows locally in abundance in our damp forest environment. Its sustainable, local and it should really be mainstream by now, but it is not. As far as health benefits are concerned, their rich in vitamin C, D and high in potassium.
After foraging, they can be dried or frozen to be used later. These golden delights are versatile and should be a part of our Autumn diet. These are just a few recipes but they can also be used in soups, pies and stir fry’s.
So, find some birch or beech trees in mountainous mossy areas and double-check your pickings are egg yellow or against a mushroom book.
Go for gold when foraging!
Think we should have a Chanterelles festival next season?
As always, comments are welcome below: