There’s gold in the hills! Season of golden chanterelles

There is a new cry for the season: there is gold in the hills. Not the metallic kind but a culinary delight as the golden chanterelle season begins

TILLAMOOK, Oregon – As summer passes and fall creeps in with cooler days and nights, there’s a new cry for the season: there is gold in the hills! Not of the mineral or metallic kind but a culinary delight because the Golden Chanterelle season has begun.

There’s nothing better than a walk in the woods, especially when there’s treasure under your feet. Steve Fick thinks it’s simple: if you want to harvest wild mushrooms, learn their habitat.

In the Tillamook State Forest, where sun and shade dance through towering Doug fir trees, Fick’s well-trained eyes are fixed near the ground where there is a culinary reward.

He used a short-bladed pocket knife to cut the chanterelles from the ground and said it’s their taste that brings him back every October.

“Chanterelles have an orange hue and their calyx shape makes them easy to spot — but their real charm is a woodsy flavor that’s hard to resist,” he said.

Since 1999, these magnificent mushrooms have been the official state mushrooms of Oregon.

Fick added that chanterelles aren’t the only mushrooms in the forest. In fact, there are dozens of other mushrooms growing here and “most aren’t too friendly to people and many are downright dangerous”.

“When you do it without knowledge, there’s no point in taking risks,” Fick said. “I learned an old saying a long time ago: there are old mycologists and there are bold mycologists, but there are no old bold mycologists.”

Steve cleaned about a pound of chanterelles (he never washes them with water but prefers to clean them with a soft cloth or brush) and then it was time to head back to my kitchen.

Steve and I were joined by Fick’s longtime friend and chef, Preston VanHook, who has worked in fine white canvas restaurants across the region, and said he loves the local taste of chanterelle from Oregon.

He then cut the stems off 20 medium-sized chanterelles for the first of three recipes he prepared for a small group of friends who gathered at my house to watch Chef Vanhook prepare a meal based on his chanterelle recipes. favourites.

He called the first recipe “Stuffed Chanterelles”.

He lined each chanterelle hat upside down on a cookie sheet.

Meanwhile, Fick pulled out a carcass or “frame” of salmon and used a small teaspoon to scrape nearly a pound of fresh salmon from the bones of the carcass.

“Nothing goes to waste,” Steve added with a smile.

Preston then tossed the salmon with 1/2 cup mayonnaise, three thinly sliced ​​green onions and 1 teaspoon each of oregano and thyme and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Steve placed the cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Recipe n°2 is a warm “girolle vinaigrette” for a spinach salad

Preston roughly chopped two cups of chanterelle mushrooms: “I make this coarse cut with the mushrooms, so they’re able to fork.”

Additionally, he finely chopped a medium-sized shallot and three slices of bacon and added, “You can’t go wrong with bacon and chanterelles!”

About a pound of wild chanterelles hit the pan with a bounce, sizzle, and pop.

“Chanterelles are one of those things that really depends on a hot pan,” Fick added.

When the mushrooms were almost cooked, he added 1 cup of sherry vinegar and ½ cup of water and reheated the mixture until hot.

“I’ve got some nice big parsley here that I’m going to chop and add towards the end of the cooking time, along with a small amount of lemon juice,” Vanhook said.

The hot dressing was poured over a huge bowl of fresh spinach leaves giving the salad a lovely wilted look and smelling delicious.

Meanwhile, Steve placed two chinook salmon fillets on a hot barbecue.

RELATED: Photography Exhibit Celebrates 100th Anniversary of Oregon State Parks

Salmon is the basis of Recipe #3 – Salmon with Chanterelles Duxelles

Preston explained that French Duxelles are a finely minced (chopped) mixture of mushrooms or mushroom stems, onions, shallots and herbs sautéed in butter. It is a basic preparation used in stuffings and sauces or as a garnish.

Preston sautéed 2 cups of chopped chanterelle mushrooms and added a medium-sized chopped shallot and four minced garlic cloves.

He added ½ cup heavy cream to top off the duxelles which were garnished with a sprinkle of chopped thyme and fresh parsley.

The sauce was poured over the top of the two cooked salmon fillets and completed an amazing chanterelle feast!

“Dinner is served,” said the beaming chef, who was clearly proud of his three distinct presentations.

Eager diners were excited and toasted the chef.

“The stuffed chanterelles are the bomb,” said restaurant Kerry Harsin.

His wife, Sue Harsin, added: “I love salmon with chanterelle sauce – it’s a bit of heaven.”

Liz Jordan added: “I have never tried salmon stuffed chanterelles, they are delicious!

Restaurant Leslee Sipp exclaimed, “I give this dinner a five-star rating! Everything in these recipes is delicious and very easy to prepare. The chanterelles are delicious!

Steve and Preston were flattered by the reviews, but VanHook insisted that’s what Oregon is.

“I think in Oregon all around, we’re just spoiled by the wealth you can harvest from the forest, or the rivers, or the sea — we’re really lucky to be able to get out and scoot around and feed our families too,” he said. he declared. said.

Fick added that the meals you contribute to are the most rewarding, meaning the ones that connect and bind you to the source of your food.

“There’s something exciting and magical that happens when you find it and cook it and when you share it with your friends and family – I don’t think it can get much better,” he said. he declares.

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The Oregon Department of Forestry allows residents to harvest up to one gallon of wild mushrooms from forest lands in the state, but no more than that is considered commercial harvesting and requires the purchase of a permit. $100 at any State Forestry Office.

Steve highlighted critical safety points for foragers choosing to head into the forest at this time of year. First, only pick mushrooms that you know are safe. If you are unsure, go with someone who is experienced and knowledgeable or take a mushroom identification course. (He suggested the Cascade Mycological Society.)

He also suggested that mushroom pickers who find themselves in unfamiliar territory stay close to the road and never out of reach of road traffic.

Be sure to follow my adventures in Oregon via the new Grant’s Getaways podcast:

Each segment is a storytelling session where I tell behind-the-scenes stories from four decades of travel and TV reporting.

You can also read about many of my favorite trips and adventures in Oregon in Grant’s Getaways book series, including:

“Grants Getaways I”, photography by Steve Terrill

“Grant’s Getaways II”, photography by Steve Terrill

“Grant’s Getaways: 101 Oregon Adventures”, Photograph by Jeff Kastner

“Grant’s Getaways: Guide to Wildlife Watching in Oregon,” Photograph by Jeff Kastner

“Grant’s Getaways: Oregon Adventures with the Kids”, Photograph by Jeff Kastner

The collection features hundreds of outdoor activities across Oregon and promises to engage a child of any age.

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