I enjoyed my first foray into the world of mushroom hunting recently. Mushroom hunting has been on my “to-do” list for a few years now, but I can never afford the fancy, all weekend workshops that happen around the NW. Some day I will take those great classes, but for now I’m riding on the coattails of a few good friends.

My friend Colin has been picking mostly chanterelles on the coast for a couple years and we decided to venture out together for the hunt. We hiked near Oakridge on one of those uncommon sunny afternoons recently and made our way into some nice old growth forest. Chanterelles, from her experience, like moist, mossy forests where Doug Firs are growing.

After a brief stop at the always welcoming Brewer’s Union, we made our way home with a small bag full of mushrooms. I was so eager to cook them up, but don’t actually have a lot of experience with wild mushrooms. They always seem too rich for my blood at the farmer’s market.

I did some poking around and found a great recipe here for a creamy chanterelle pasta dish. I made some slight modifications to simplify it a bit and here’s basically what I did:

  1. Cook 2 T. butter and two slices of diced bacon in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. As it starts to crisp, add one chopped shallot.
  2. When the shallot is soft, stir in 1/2 lb. roughly chopped fresh chanterelles. Saute until they render their liquid. Meanwhile, start cooking 1/2 lb. bowtie or curly pasta.
  3. Start adding one pint heavy cream (oh yea…) slowly and bring to a simmer. When the pasta is almost done, add one cup of frozen or fresh peas to the sauce and let it simmer a couple more minutes.
  4. Toss the drained pasta with the sauce and add in 1/2 c. parmesan cheese.

Hot damn, that was a good dinner. We added a big Caesar salad to balance the richness of the pasta dish and was enough to stuff two people with enough for lunch the next day. It convinced me that I definitely need to get back out on the hunt again this next weekend. Having a delicacy like chanterelles right at your fingertips, and all you have to do is hike around for them, sounds like the perfect way to spend my fall mornings.

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