In this classic French recipe, an herb egg mixture whisked with sour cream envelopes sautéed chanterelles to create a delicious and nutritious breakfast that will leave you wanting more every time. Serve with a spring greens salad to kick-start your day.
Chanterelles (Cantharellus sp.)
Worldwide, there are many species of chanterelles. In July in Pennsylvania, I’ve been finding smooth chanterelles as well as red cinnabar chanterelles, both of which are delicious.
Two species of chanterelles that I commonly find in Pennsylvania woods in July are Cantharellus lateritius, commonly known as the smooth chanterelle, and Cantharellus cinnabarinus, commonly known as the red cinnabar chanterelle. The yellow smooth chanterelles are bigger and meatier than red cinnabar chanterelles, but what they lack in size, they compensate with their stunning colors that somewhat persist even after cooked. Their distinctive, pumpkin orange colors make them stand out in the forest and add a nice pop of color to the plate.
Both chanterelle species are mycorrhizal with hardwoods, especially oaks, and grow in the summer and fall in eastern North America. Neither species grows in Europe, though smooth chanterelles have been reported in Asia and Mexico.
Chanterelles are some of the easiest mushrooms to identify thanks to their bright colors and the lack of true gills under the caps. Despite being called smooth chanterelles, this species can develop shallow, sometimes very intricate, wrinkles that run down the stem. The only potential lookalike in eastern North America is the poisonous Jack O'Lantern (Omphalotus illudens), which however grows on decaying wood, often at the base of old tree stumps, and forms large, dense clusters.
Red cinnabar chanterelles have false gills running down the stem, sometimes developing cross veins. They owe their bright orange color to the carotenoid canthaxanthin. They are more fragile than smooth chanterelles, but not as much as the black trumpets or yellowfoot chanterelles.
Taste & Edibility
Chanterelles are no doubt some of the most delicious wild mushrooms. They have a meaty texture, a sweet aroma reminiscent of apricots, and a mild mushroom flavor that lends itself to both savory and sweet dishes like chanterelle ice cream or cheesecake. They work great in combination with cream to create dishes like pasta, soups, sauces, and risottos. Smooth chanterelles have a stronger aroma and taste than red chanterelles, so I usually mix them with other types. Plus, because they are not as big, you’d have to find a lot of them to make a decent meal by themselves.
See Chanterelles on Toast recipe for medicinal properties.
When you forage for chanterelles, you usually find lots of them. This past weekend, I found 5 lbs and because I love savory breakfasts, I wanted to try making a chanterelle omelette, also known as the omelet aux girolles. In this classic French recipe, an herb egg mixture whisked with sour cream envelopes sautéed chanterelles to create a delicious and nutritious breakfast. Following Alan Bergo’s (Forager Chef) tip, I didn’t fold it, because that would hide all the pretty chanterelles!
Hiding all sorts of delicious ingredients, the omelette as we know it is thought to have originated in mid-16th century France. Legend has it that Napoleon Bonaparte had the first omelette at a local inn near the town of Bessieres, when he stopped there with his army. However, there are mentions of omelette-like dishes from ancient Rome and Persia.
If you don’t have chanterelles, you can make this recipe with any type of wild or store-bought mushrooms like white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), oysters (Pleurotus sp.), or hen-of-the-woods (Grifola frondosa).
Please be extremely careful cooking and eating foraged mushrooms. Never eat a mushroom that you are not 100% sure of its ID. The best way to learn how to identify and forage for edible mushrooms in your area is to join a local mushroom club or go with a trusted mushroom identifier or a mycologist. Then, even if you are 100% sure of its ID and know it's an edible mushroom, always try small quantities of a new mushroom first before eating a large batch to make sure it sits with you well.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Serving Size: 1
- 100 g (3.5 oz) chanterelles (cleaned and roughly chopped if big)
- ½ tbsp butter
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tsp fresh herbs (chives or parsley, chopped)
- salt and pepper
When pouring and cooking the eggs, make sure you don’t cover the chanterelles. You want them sticking out for an effective presentation.
Clean the chanterelles. Hopefully you have done some cleaning right in the woods, but if not, cut off the ends and if needed, quickly rinse under running water and let dry on paper towels.
Whisk 2 eggs with 2 tbsp sour cream and 1 tbsp water until fluffy. Add 2 tsp fresh herbs and season with salt and pepper.
Add chanterelles to a medium frying pan on medium heat without any fat. Releasing moisture, the mushrooms will cook in liquid for a few minutes. After the liquid has evaporated, add ½ tbsp butter and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Lower the heat and add the egg mixture to the pan and cook for 30 seconds, stirring occasionally with a spatula to form soft curds around the chanterelles, leaving them visible and only partially covered by the eggs.
Once the egg mixture begins to set, turn off heat and let the omelette cook in remaining heat of the pan.
Serve with spring greens salad. Enjoy!
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