In the Midwest, morels tend to dominate the thoughts of fungi-philes throughout the spring, and for many, mushroom picking begins and ends there. But if you love mushrooms, and you’re not seeking out chanterelles, you’re missing out on a real treat. Chanterelles have a flavor and aroma that is absolutely unique. Their haunting flavor is often said to be spicy, floral and apricot-like, but words cannot adequately describe this marvelous mushroom and it must be eaten to be fully appreciated. Chanterelles have a particularly pleasant texture too; firm, with a little bit of “al dente” firmness, even after cooking. Chanterelles have the added benefit of storing very well in the refrigerator and can last a week or two when carefully kept in a container that allows them to breathe, like a plain brown paper bag.
If Chanterelles have a single flaw, it’s that they don’t dry especially well -or rather, they do dry well, but don’t reconstitute as nicely as other mushrooms. Dried chanterelles, sadly, can be rather tough, even after long soaking and cooking. There is a method to using dried chanterelles that works quite well, however. When dried chanterelles are pulverized in a spice grinder, food processor or blender, the resulting powder and larger granules can be used in pasta, soups and sauces – even as a dusting for pan-frying trout or other fish. (Just check out this fantastic recipe for Pan-fried Rainbow Trout with Chanterelle Mushrooms.)