Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chanterelle mushrooms

photo, Dan Ryan

One of the most memorable and sexiest dishes I've ever eaten was in Gdańsk, Poland, in 2005. It was in a cozy outside cafe on a bustling pedestrian-only zone, and the meal was a creamy chanterelle mushroom sauce served over a tender breast of chicken. Ohh la laa! What that French sole meuniere dish was to Julia Child, this meal was for me. It was silky, creamy, buttery and divine, and the memory of it haunts me. The word that I always use to describe it was butterscotchy. Not being sure what wine or cognac they used to flavor the sauce I have tried to replicate the flavors, and I think I have come close using Marsala wine. Fresh golden chanterelle mushrooms used to be difficult to find and only when in season, but now you can find them at Whole Foods markets any time. The chanterelles are ridiculously priced at around $20 a pound, but are worth the splurge once a year or so. Marilyn down at Vidalias Market in Beverly Farms offers them occasionally too. This dish may not take you to Gdańsk, but you'll love the butterscotchy flavor.

2 chicken breast paillards
2-3 cups chanterelle mushrooms
1 large diced shallot
Marsala wine
1/2 cup créme fraiche
sprig of fresh thyme
1 tsp or so of diced parsley
1 tsp olive oil
2 tblsp butter
salt and pepper

Season chicken paillards with salt and pepper and quickly sauté them in olive oil on both sides. Remove from pan and keep warm. In the pan sauté the shallots until clear, then add in half of the butter and the mushrooms and sauté for about 2 minutes until tender and soft. Add in the Marsala wine and light to flambé (watch your eyelashes and keep a lid close by for safety). Once the flames die out, add in the créme fraiche, thyme leaves, and salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat for around 10 minutes to infuse the sauce with the mushroom flavor, then taste for seasoning (adjust if needed) and melt in the remaining butter. Place warm chicken paillard on a plate, spoon mushroom sauce over them and sprinkle with diced parsley.

photo, Dan Ryan

Oh and a funny postscript—after dinner we were served a glass of Polish Goldwasser (goldwater), a strong, cinnamon tasting root and herbal liqueur with flecks of 22 karat gold in it!  We liked it so much we brought a bottle home with us.

I took this photos of these lovely chanterelles at an outdoor market
in Helsinki, Finland, 2005

—You could serve this over a bed of buttered papardelle noodles, 
   as we did in the picture above.

It's a rich sauce, so it's nice with a crisp chardonnay 
   (Frei Brothers is very good) or champagne.

You can find similar gold flecked Goldwasser type liqueurs here in the states.


  1. For all you Twilight fans reading this, Forks, Washington is the place where chanterelles are sold to markets across the US! The Pacific Northwest has the prefect growing climate for mushrooms. When we were out there in September the season was just starting up.

  2. Maggie, did you have any meals with chanterelles?


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