Chanterelles are delicate and rather elusive – the only time I ever gathered my own was one morning back in the UK, when I looked out over the lawn from the bedroom window of our new home and saw what I thought was a vast patch of golden wildflowers that had sprung up overnight.
Imagine my delight when I realized that our lawn was carpeted with chanterelles – enough for a huge feast. They made their way into several wild mushroom & prosciutto lasagnas that stayed in my freezer until the next big party. The lasagna was declared “ambrosial” and I was asked many times to make it again but sadly, those chanterelles never reappeared and frankly, I resented paying £30.00 a pound for them in Harrods.
But that was long ago, so I was delighted when I came across cartons of fresh Oregon chanterelles in Costco the other day – not quite as thrilling as finding your own but still an absolute treat at an astonishing $9.99 lb.
I wanted a simple recipe that would allow the mushrooms to shine rather than disappear in a creamy sauce. I’ve adapted this from a recipe I found in Food & Wine that originally called for fazzoletti (pasta ‘handkerchiefs’), home-made with burnt faro. It sounded amazing but I’m trying to keep things fast as well as fabulous here, so I’ve opted for store-bought silky egg noodles (pappardelle), my favorite quick-cooking pasta.
The toasted hazelnuts add a perfect woodsy crunch and the end result has just enough bite – neither overwhelming but definitely not bland.
The original recipe called for sherry vinegar – I’d run out of that so used a Cava Rosé vinegar instead and the end result was quite wonderful!
- If you have access to Trader Joe’s , buy their ready-roasted, skinned hazelnuts; a great time-saver for all sorts of recipes that require skinned, toasted hazelnuts.
- I store nuts in the fridge; they’ll keep for ages and it stops them from becoming rancid.
PAPPARDELLE with CHANTERELLES & TOASTED HAZELNUTS
1/2 cup (120ml measure) of hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 lb (o.45 -0.5 kilo) of fresh chanterelles, wiped clean with a damp cloth then thickly sliced
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 large shallot, chopped finely
1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves, pulled from the stalk
A pinch of red pepper chili flakes
2 tablespoons of sherry or really good wine vinegar
1 cup of chicken stock (vegetarians can use vegetable stock)
3/4 lb (0.35 kilo) of pappardelle or other egg pasta noodles
1/4 cup (60 ml measure) of finely snipped fresh chives
If you’re toasting your own hazelnuts, heat the oven to 375F (190C), the spread the nuts on a tray and roast them for 12 minutes until fragrant. Transfer them to a wire mesh strainer and roll around until all the skins flake off, or rub the skins off in a clean dish towel. Chop them coarsely and set aside.
Cook 4 tablespoons of the butter in a wide deep sauté pan until it’s lightly browned.
Add the chanterelles and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook over a high heat, stirring occasionally until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are golden (8-10 minutes).
Add the shallot, fresh thyme and red pepper flakes and cook for another 5 minutes over a moderately high heat, stirring from time to time. Add the vinegar and cook until it evaporates then add the stock; reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid has reduced by about half. Check the seasoning and add more salt and black pepper if needed.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to instruction until just al dente. Drain quickly, add to the mushroom mixture along with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and toss around for a couple of minutes to thoroughly combine everything.
Just before serving, fold in the snipped chives then spoon the pasta into warmed individual bowls – finish each with a garnish of chopped toasted hazelnuts.