Thursday, October 13, 2011

Speaking of Chanterelles

I haven’t met a mushroom I didn’t like. I have met some mistreated mushrooms, who, out of no fault of their own, ended up slimy as a result of poor preparation. But those are the few, and hopefully forgotten.

After my disastrous fail with mac n’ cheese I’ve walked lightly and thought carefully about what I want to cook and how I want it to turn out.

I ran across some recently foraged Chanterelle mushrooms at my local market yesterday. What to do… what to do.

I am finding I need to plan a little ahead when it comes to cooking without meat. I need to busy my knife skills and soak beans or grains the night before. So when the fancy strikes I’m in the ready. I soaked some barley overnight. I’ve never done that before but had read somewhere that it was a good thing to do.

I decided to let those Chanterelles star in the show with the barley. It sounded like a perfect match. I’m happy to report it was! Barley-Mushroom “Risotto”. Comfort food wearing no disguise.

I used Crimini, white and Chanterelle mushrooms and cut them large and chunky. I added them to some finely diced onion I had sautéed in olive oil. I threw in a couple of cloves of minced garlic and some fresh thyme. I let the magic get all worked up in that pan over a moderately high heat. When the color and texture became caramelized I removed the mixture and set it aside. Then I added more finely diced onion to the pan with a little olive oil. I cooked the onions to translucent and added a cup of drained barley. I “toasted” the barley over the same moderately high heat for a few minutes. Then I lowered the heat to about medium and added a cup of white wine, stirring until it was almost all absorbed by the barley. Then I began feeding the grain a ladle at a time of warm mushroom stock. I added some fresh thyme leaves and red pepper flakes to this mixture and decided to start a pot of veggie soup between stirring and adding stock.

When I got to the end of the cooking process (about an hour later) I added the mushroom mixture back in along with a couple of tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley. I topped mine with a tiny bit of vegan parmesan. I needed that zing. If you prefer to use cheese be sure to use a good Reggiano.

I do love fall. But I long for summer and in Seattle summer hardly remains long enough to build a friendship. Wrapping my mind around fall is made easier in the presence of good comfort food.


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