Thursday, September 11

Thursday Farm Photo: A Very Local Dinner Starring Wild Chanterelle Mushrooms

Dinner is served—and it doesn't get much better than this.

On the menu: Sautéed golden zucchini and crisp pan-fried potatoes just harvested from the kitchen garden, grilled lamb leg steaks from our own lamb, wild chanterelle mushrooms found a few steps from the farm. Seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper. A bit lacking in color, but oh my god was it good.

We don't usually have hurricanes or tropical storms here in the landlocked middle of the country, but last week Hurricane Gustav brought us some welcome late summer rain. Wild mushrooms were soon popping up everywhere, and a few of them were even edible.*

I enjoyed last spring's big morel mushroom bounty immensely, but my heart truly belongs to chanterelles. Apparently I'm not alone, since they're the most sought after wild mushroom in North America. Chanterelles aren't very plentiful around here (at least where I've been looking), but this is the time of year when they're most likely to make an appearance. I did find a few while walking along the ridge above the farm the other day (talk about a great incentive to exercise), and although they were a little past their prime and caked in mud from the downpour, I was able to salvage enough for a couple of swoon-worthy bites.

The first year I lived in Missouri I happened upon several pounds of chanterelles near the entrance to Windridge Farm—and never found anywhere near that many again. There were so many I even made a savory chanterelle pie with a creamy sauce and lattice top. Talk about decadence! Usually, though, my chanterelle bounty is so small that I turn to the same boring but delicious way of preparing them—simply sautéed in plenty of organic butter. A hunk of warm crusty bread is essential for soaking up every drop of the glorious juice.

Wild mushroom hunters and lovers unite! Are you a wild mushroom fan? What kinds do you look for and how do you like to prepare them? If you've written about wild mushrooms on your own blog, you're welcome to leave a link to your post in the comments section.

*Foraging for wild mushrooms can be a wonderful and rewarding thing to do, but you should never taste (or even touch) a wild mushroom unless you are 110% sure that it is edible. Most mushrooms are poisonous, and many are deadly. Please be smart and stay safe!

© 2008, the award-winning blog where a dozen years ago I was lucky enough to come across a wild chicken of the woods mushroom (not to be confused with a hen of the woods, or maitake, mushroom) on my first 4th of July in Missouri. It was like finding a couple of pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast sitting next to a tree. Doused with teriyaki sauce and grilled, it made a fantastic and filling meal that so far I've only been able to dream of reproducing.


  1. You nearly made me weep!!! We used to collect morels and boletus up by our cabin. Now it's become so commercialized that big fights break out and guns are drawn over picking areas. For once, I've chosen safety over food and no longer forage. :(

  2. That looks delicious!

    I know nothing about wild mushrooms and opt not to try the things growing in my backyard. Like you said, better safe than sorry.

  3. As the man teaching the mushroom class I took said, "You can eat ANY mushroom -- once."

  4. We had some that looked just like the chanterelles come up in our herb garden after the rains this week. I wish I knew enough about them to know if they were edible and not some look alike.

  5. Good lord! Did you just say, "a savory chanterelle pie with a creamy sauce and lattice top."??

    Well, yes, because I cut and pasted it right from your post, but still - that sounds AMAZING.

    I love mushrooms of all varieties (well, not the poisonous ones, but you know) and would probably pass away if I ever got a hold of a pie like that.

    We have a giant bag of dried porcini mushrooms that Bubba harvested during a fishing trip and I'm wondering if a pie like mentioned in your post would be nearly as delicious with those.

    Recipe? Please? I'll be your best friend?

  6. I haven't foraged for mushrooms, but I buy many varieties at the farmers' market. My favorite way to enjoy them is to saute them slowly in butter, then add some dry white wine, and fresh herbs such as thyme or rosemary and serve them atop crispy polenta or fresh pasta.

  7. I got a kick out of reading your post today because I was talking about mushrooms on, too! :)

  8. I am not a wild mushroom forager, but many of my husband's friends and family in Italy are. On our last trip to Piemonte, my father-in-law took me hunting for porcini mushrooms. I wrote about it here on my blog:

    Now I wish I had done a better job of describing it, though.

    By the way, fresh porcini mushrooms are heavenly!

  9. Lack of color my foot! It looked good enough to make my mouth water!

  10. I've always wanted to go wild mushroom foraging, but haven't had the chance yet. A friend of mine goes in the area around Yosemite national park and gets morels.

  11. One of the great things about living in Switzerland is that we have controle champingnons in most villages. They are certified mushroom identifiers who will tell you if your harvest will kill you or be delicious in a nice omelette with a Valais white. Apparently in France you can go to any pharmacist, which is a bit more convenient.

  12. I love mushrooms and morels are often found in Michigan, but I can only identify them (and any other mushroom) when they are in the market. In the woods...I wouldn't know good from bad. Some of the prettiest are deadly.

    I like Sabayon's post about "controle champignons" in Switzerland - wouldn't that be great for the rest of us.

    Thanks for the great post about mushrooms.

  13. I just ordered chanterelles from Marx. Thank you so much for the information. I can hardly wait to cook them.

  14. I remember the pharmacies in Geneva that would sift through our bags of harvested mushrooms. For some reason, while we would bring in full bags to be sorted, we would leave with very little. I wonder if our ignorance was our loss.
    Chanterelles are our family favorite, and this meal looks delicious!

  15. I'm a vegetarian and that photo made my mouth water!

  16. When I was very young - five years old or so - we had a family who lived up the street from us in the summer. The parents were MIT professors and they had a son my age. His mother was a hobbyist mycophile and used to take Daniel and I on mushroom walks through the woods all summer. We found some boletes and some morels and it was so exciting - one of my earliest food memories.

    The first time I had chanterelles though was in Slovenia, staying with my best friend's family in the Julien Alps. My friend's Babi - grandmother - made a split pea soup with baby chanterelles, which they sold in astonishing quantities at the farmer's market just down the mountain. So meaty and tender and delicious, and strikingly beautiful in the bright green soup. Thanks for the post and bringing back some mushroom memories!

  17. More people should make food like this - local, wild and fresh.

    Note sure if we'll be picking this year but I hope so!

  18. Hi, I too am starting life over. But I move to Mid Mo. from St. Louis. I am enjoying you blog. I have never learned about picking mush rooms yet but hope to find some one to show me which are edible.
    Thanks for your time.

  19. Looks like a fabulous dinner, and those mushrooms are making my mouth water...

  20. I wait for this moment all year long. It is an annual ritual. Yesterday, I went into the Oregon Coast Range for my first 2008 fall mushroom foray (collecting about 4.5 pounds), and this morning, I enjoyed my first chanterelle mushroom breakfast. It is the highlight of my year.

    I sauteed them in some butter, seasoned with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper and then deglazed the pan with some sweet desert wine (Krondorf Burge Wilson Botrytised Riesling 1984, ex Australia). When the omelette mixture had started to set, I sprinkled 3 tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan, a tablespoon of crumbled bacon, added the chanterelles and folded into over. A perfect breakfast with a couple of slices of buttered bread, a small glass of the desert Riesling, and a piping hot cup of fresh coffee.

    Autumn/fall is the best season in the Pacific Northwest. And, I can totally understand why everyone loves chanterelles.

  21. I have always wanted to go mushroom hunting! My family always goes matsutake hunting.

    I just love mushroom risotto, too!

  22. This is coming little late, but, i found your site 2 days ago. Im from Finland where my favourite fall thing has been picking mushrooms and if i have been very lucky, some lingonberries and blueberries. And few times cranberries(its not same than in US.). But i lived southern part of there so no chance for cloudberries :) I usually do golden chantrelles by frying them in butter, with little onion adding some cream, little white pepper and salt, eaten with potatoes and sometimes over quick fryed bass or some other mild fish. Or, just fry them with little garlic and onion, add little white pepper, salt and chopped parsley and pour over hot pasta. I use much of mushrooms, wild ones. Luckily now that i moved in France, Paris, i brought with me a lot of dryed mushrooms. Here i havent yet find a place i could pick cos there isnt really places or customary here. But, people seem to be crazy when i offer some foods where i use mushrooms, meatballs, soup, bread where i have added finely crumbeld mushrooms. Or my mushroom onion salad. I really love your blog and i have been so ahppy to read all of baking, gardening things y have done. So remote to me now, but, maybe someday ill be back on living somewhere where i can allso grow my own veggies and keep sheeps etc.
    Thanks for shearing so wonderful :)



December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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