Do you have any special ingredients that are decadent to you? Treat ingredients, whether they be expensive ingredients that you treat yourself to every now and then, or maybe they’re staples and it’s worth it? Maybe a certain dish that you make only a couple of times a year or save for special occasions, or maybe you buy that really expensive cheese and savour it over time? Maybe you gorge and eat it all at once! There’s a particular ingredient that many chefs and food lovers around the world covet, and for good reason. They’re supper expensive to buy, are only available fresh very limited times during the year, they have never found a way to successfully cultivate them so you can only find them in the wild, plus they’re incomparable in flavour, versatility and amazingness. I’m referring to chanterelle mushrooms, and lucky for us, you just may find them in your backyard here in Newfoundland.
Chanterelles have a distinct trumpet-shaped cap with gilled-edges and a gorgeous golden colour (ranging from a bright yellow to a deep orange, gold shade). They can be found in the wild throughout the world. Sometimes they have a sweet or woodsy scent and often a bit of a peppery kick in taste, but can be used in so many dishes as they have a meaty, chewy texture. They’re best cooked as it brings out their flavour, but you can also dry them to save some of that tastiness throughout the winter! If you find a place to pick chanterelles, keep it on the down-low as many people won’t dare share their chanterelle patch location! I’m telling ya, they’re a hot commodity. A friend of mine, owner of a wonderful new gourmet restaurant in St. John’s called The Reluctant Chef, recently bestowed me with the wonderful gift of a full grocery bag of these bad boys. I was so happy that I immediately cooked them up in this very simple but delicious dish that allows the mushrooms show themselves off! I’m no expert in these mushrooms at all and this was an experimental recipe to say the least, but I really enjoyed it and hope you will too, or you have fun adapting it to your taste. Choose any pasta that works for you, or make your own!
Chanterelle White Wine Pasta with Basil
-1/2c shredded fresh basil
(I grow mine on my kitchen counter- super easy!)
-2c fresh chanterelles, halved with bottom hard stalk of the stems removed
(Cleaning them can be tricky! Some people believe you shouldn’t get them wet and should be extra careful in cleaning with a damp cloth or paper towel if they’re not that dirty, being sure to clean the “gills” well. Others think you should wash them asap in cold water, being sure to allow them to dry before storing in the fridge. Read up on it, and do what you think if best, just be sure that they are well cleaned before you eat them!)
-5 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2c white wine
(of your choice- you can even use cooking wine if you prefer, or buy a bottle and serve the rest with the meal)
– 2 tsp lemon juice
-1tsp flour or cornstarch (to thicken)
-Pasta of your choice
(this makes enough for 2-3 people, depending on appetite! More if served with a hearty side dish.)
-Cook your pasta as per the instructions if store-bought, or if you’re super awesome make your own fresh pasta!
-Melt your butter in a large frying pan or skillet and add your garlic. Sauté, being careful not to burn it.
-Add your mushrooms and sauté medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, adding your olive oil. Add your white wine and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so. Your mushrooms will create a nice bit of liquid, which we want to retain as a sauce for the pasta along with the wine.
-Add a generous pinch of your fresh basil to flavor your current broth. Next add lemon juice, salt and fresh pepper. Continue to sauté for a minute or two as your basil becomes fragrant.
-Add your cornstarch and stir well for about 2 minutes as your mixture comes to a boil.
– Serve up your hot pasta and top with your tasty chanterelle concoction, being sure to add the liquid broth. Top with remaining fresh basil, cheese (optional, but a nice sharp cheddar or parmesan goes really well ), extra cracked black pepper if you’d like and serve with a side of garlic bread or simple green salad. Eat while hot and be sure to toast to good, simple, fresh, local food.
Remember to share food with your friends too! Cheers!