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Chanterelles & Halibut

Don’t over power this delicate mushroom

I’ve had no trouble finding all kinds of mushroom in good quantity this summer. But, when I find the apricot-colored Chanterelle, I forget I even like the other mushrooms. One scent of this one, and I’ve lost my taste for the hunt for any other.

Sweet and buttery both in smell and taste. Delicate prefaces any description of how they look and taste, so it’s best to cook and serve them simply.

One of my favorite ways to cook Chanterelles is in a risotto with just a little shallot, wine and a very little bit of Parmesan cheese. I love Parmesan, so it’s rare I suggest such restraint.

But restraint is what is really necessary to get the most out of Chanterelles. Rule out meat, garlic, chilis. I imagined the perfect Chanterelle sauce for a very firm, very fine piece of Halibut.

The fish was pan fried in just a little oil, salted, peppered and put on a bed of fresh pasta.

The chanterelles were cut to bite-sized pieces and sauteed for about 5 minutes in a tablespoon of butter.

Fresh wild mushrooms are moist, but will still absorb twice their weight in liquid, so it’s best to go light on liquid, too. Butter included.

About a 1/4 cup of white wine poured into the pan used to fry the fish conserved every bit of the flavor of the fish and good olive oil, and was the start of a sauce. I added an egg yolk to the wine to thicken it, whisked them together over low heat and added the mushrooms just moments before I arranged the sauce on top of each portion of fish.

We served it with a simple cold white Chardonnay and a few slices of fresh tomato from the garden.

The cooking of this meal took no time at all.

The collecting of the mushrooms had taken about three hours total and was, of course, written off as great exercise (whether or not mushrooms were to be found).

The cleaning of all these mushrooms, however, took hours. I enjoyed every minute of it.

I now understand how someone might enjoy waxing their car. I held each mushroom, blew the obvious dirt away, cut off any part of the stem that wasn’t going to come clean, and then used an artist’s paint brush to flick dirt from the fluted gills that run down the stem and under the cap. Finally, a soft, damp tea towel took any remaining dirt or debris off the top. For me, the smell of Chanterelle is much better than Carnauba, but the pride was probably similar to that of someone with a cherry ride.

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