Savannh, Georgia; October 30, 2017: Pasta with Chanterelles
I am loving the cool weather which just began yesterday – though daytime highs will approach 80° F by the end of the week. I have probably foraged the last of the chanterelles for the season, so I wanted to have a dish that featured them. I had just enough for a hearty pasta dish for one, but I am including a recipe for four.
I am not particularly fond of grocery store mushrooms – the bland button mushrooms that are also called “champignons de Paris.” I find that I have to cook most of the water out of them before they have much flavor at all. Chanterelles (also called girolles in French), on the other hand, should be quickly cooked to preserve their flavor. Resist the temptation to adorn this simple recipe with more butter or cream. The small quantities are perfect to show off the distinctly nutty and spicy flavors of chanterelles.
Use the pasta of your choice for this dish. I have used the crimped flat pasta called Pantacce Toscane, but any will do. The dish assembles very quickly, so begin boiling your pasta water while you prepare your ingredients. I don’t generally wash the mushrooms, but clean them assiduously with a mushroom brush or an old, soft toothbrush.
To serve four:
12 ounces of pasta of your choice
1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon unsalted butter
1 pound chanterelles or mixed so-called wild mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed so that all are roughly the same shape and size
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (but not if you are using morels)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dry sherry
2 tablespoons stock of your choice, optional
Bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt the water, and add the pasta to cook while you prepare the sauce.
Heat the butter over high heat and add the mushrooms and lemon juice and zest. Toss continuously, adding salt and lots of pepper to taste. Cook until the chanterelles are barely tender, about 2 minutes. If you are using grocery-store so-called wild mushrooms, cook them until the mushrooms are brown and dry. Turn down the heat to medium, add the cream and sherry, and shake the pan until the mushrooms are coated well with the cream. Don’t overcook or the cream will separate – in which case you can add the stock and reheat to restore the sauce to its creaminess. (You can add the stock along with the cream and sherry if you desire, but the flavor will not be as mushroomy.)
Drain the pasta and add to the pan, toss well, and divide into four pasta bowls.