Chanterelles on Toast
Chanterelles (Cantharellus sp.)
Two of the common yellow chanterelle species: Cantharellus cibarius (left) photographed in South Bohemia, Czech Republic and Cantharellus lateritius (right) photographed in Pennsylvania, USA.
Chanterelles encompass several species of fungi in the genera Cantharellus, Craterellus, Gomphus, and Polyozellus. They range from orange, yellow, and white to black (check out my recipe for Black Trumpet Pasta) and have a meaty texture, making them one of the most popular wild edible mushrooms. The name chanterelle originates from the Greek kantharos meaning "tankard" or "cup," which is a reference to their funnel shape. They often have a fruity smell to them, especially apricots.
Two of the common yellow species and the ones I am familiar with are Cantharellus cibarius, which is the original golden chanterelle that only grows in Europe in both deciduous and coniferous forests. Cantharellus lateritius, commonly known as the smooth chanterelle, is very similar in appearance, but most likely only grows in eastern North America in association with oaks. (There might be similar species in Asia and Africa, though it is unlikely these are the same species.)
Both species are some of the easiest mushrooms to identify and spot, thanks to their bright color against the green moss or dark fallen leaves. They grow on the ground singly or scattered, and sometimes in open clusters. Neither smooth nor golden chanterelles have pores or gills, which is an important distinguishing characteristic from potential lookalikes. Smooth chanterelle has a smooth underside, which can however develop wrinkles by maturity; golden chanterelles have straight shallow ridges running down its 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.
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. Golden chanterelles supposedly have a superior flavor to smooth chanterelles, but I think I have to do more tasting before I agree with that. They are both delicious in my opinion! For more culinary notes, see Alan Bergo’s (Forager Chef) basic guide to golden chanterelles.
Chanterelles have antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-depressive properties thanks to the presence of various phenols, flavonoids, carotenoids, and vitamins such as β-Carotene, lycopene, α-Tocopherol (vitamin E), or vitamin C. For example, apart from from being responsible for the mushroom color, β-Carotene, which converts to vitamin A, supports eye health, improves cognitive function, helps maintain skin health and appearance, and may help prevent certain cancers. Chanterelles also contain a relatively high amount of vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), which our body needs to properly absorb calcium and phosphorus in the intestine to be able to form healthy bones. Thanks to the presence of serotonin, chanterelles can also serve as a natural prevention of depression.
Chanterelles on Toast
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: 15 minutes
- Serving Size: 1
- 5 oz chanterelles (cleaned and roughly chopped)
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp butter
- 2 oz ricotta
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp canola oil
- 1 large slice sourdough bread
- 2 eggs
- flat-leaf parsley or chives for garnish (chopped)
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.
Add them to a large frying pan on medium heat without any fat. Releasing moisture, the mushroom will cook in liquid for a few minutes. After the liquid has evaporated, add 1 tbsp butter and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together ricotta and 1 tsp olive oil until light and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
Melt 1 tsp canola oil in another large non-stick frying pan. Add the slice of sourdough bread and toast until lightly browned on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove and place on a plate.
Meanwhile, whisk 2 eggs for at least 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Place a small non-stick frying pan on low heat, add 1 tsp butter and immediately after it melts, add whisked eggs. Do not preheat the pan. The key to perfect scrambled eggs is to cook them slow on low heat. Stir the eggs to break up the curds as they form.
Spread the ricotta spread on the sourdough toast, top with scrambled eggs and sautéed chanterelles. Garnish with a sprinkling of parsley or chives. Serve immediately!
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