My good friend Carol has a special place where she hunts for chanterelle mushrooms. She’s graciously invited me to follow along with her a few times but much to my loss our schedules haven’t lined up for me to be the fortunate beneficiary. So like most of us I buy mine at the grocery store and pay the steep price per pound. It’s worth it. Their limited season from approximately September to December makes them all the more valuable.
Their unusual name, orange yellowish color and funnel shape can be a little intimidating for those who’ve never cooked with them. But chanterelles perform like most mushrooms needing little cooking time to become tender and to bring out their flavor. For cooking I like to keep them whole if they are small or halved to keep the pieces big enough to get as much flavor as possible when biting into them. I love their distinct, somewhat nutty flavor.
It is best to clean chanterelles just before using them with the least amount of water needed to rid the dirt. I brush off any dirt then put them in a colander and run water over them, turning them over to make sure there is not any dirt in the folds on the stem underneath the cap, then pat them dry on paper towels to rid excess moisture.
The highlight of this pasta is of course the chanterelles so all the other ingredients are just to enhance their flavor. Tossing the chicken with the flour gives golden brown color and helps to thicken the chicken broth and cream added toward the end of cooking. Using both butter and oil to brown the chicken gives flavor from the butter and a higher cooking temperature from the oil. But you can substitute all of one or the other. Sherry or white wine add a depth of flavor to the sauce – I think it’s convenient to keep a bottle of sherry in your pantry for when you either don’t have white wine or don’t have a bottle opened. My favorite compliment to the chanterelles is the fragrant fresh chopped thyme leaves. If you don’t have access to fresh thyme you can use dried but I recommend the fresh.
For the pasta, I use the “gemelli” shape that looks like two pastas twisted around each other. I think this shapes goes well with the extraordinary nature of Chanterelle mushrooms but you can use fusili, bow tie or any other shape you prefer. I recommend using only 8 ounces of dried pasta preferring to bite into just as much Chanterelle and chicken as I do pasta. But you can increase the amount of pasta up to 12 ounces if you want to make the recipe stretch to feed more people.
You can omit the chicken and increase the amount of chanterelles to one pound for a vegetarian option or for a side dish to serve with roasted chicken, beef or pork. And of course other favorite mushrooms can be substituted for the chanterelles.
- 8 oz Short shaped pasta such as gemilli, fusilli or penne
- 12 oz Chanterelle mushrooms
- 1 Boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8-12 ounces) sliced into bite size pieces
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons Flour
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 2 teaspoons Chopped garlic
- ¼ cup Sherry or white wine (*see note)
- 1 cup Chicken broth
- ½ cup Whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon Chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
- Grated Parmesan cheese, optional for sprinkling on top
- Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
- Meanwhile, remove any excess dirt from Chanterelles. Place in a colander and run under just enough water to clean them; drain then remove to paper towels and pat dry. Cut large Chanterelles in half or in quarters.
- Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper then toss with 2 tablespoons flour. Heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat; add chicken and cook until browned stirring once or twice; remove and keep warm.
- To the same skillet over medium heat add remaining 2 tablespoons butter then add chanterelles and cook and stir just until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 30-45 seconds just to release flavor. Return browned chicken to pan; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon flour and stir.
- Add sherry to the chicken and Chanterelles and cook 30-45 seconds, then stir in chicken broth, cream and thyme; bring to a simmer and cook just until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Stir in cooked pasta and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.