I have no idea how I lucked out, but I did.
Normally chanterelle mushrooms sell for about thirty dollars a pound. Consequently, I’ve never had the pleasure of their company in my kitchen.
But a while back I was in Whole Foods. I don’t whether it was a mistake, there was a glut on the market, or it was a straight-up holiday miracle, but those puppies were selling for $4.99 a pound. I filled a bag, and skipped all the way home. The whole time I expected someone to grab me because there’d been some type of grievous mushroom error.
Nope, I made it back to Chez Matthews, chanterelles in hand.
I then pondered preparation.
We eat mushrooms a few times a week, in all kind of dishes. But I didn’t want to dim their star power one bit. It would be like having Aretha Franklin over only to ask her to sing “Happy Birthday”.
So they would not languish in gravy, or meatloaf, or soup. I wanted my windfall to b.e the star.
About the same time I was in Lowes Foods and bought a bag of completely adorable cherubic red skinned potatoes. They were literally the size of a shooter used in a game of marbles. Actually they’re known as marble potatoes.
To celebrate these two delightful, earthy treasures, I decided to do a simple roasting. This would keep them close to their natural state. I wouldn’t try to manipulate the flavors either, but just bring out the very best of them that I could.
If you don’t happen to luck out and find some fresh chanterelles that you can afford without a second mortgage, any type of mushroom can be used.
Oven-roasted chanterelles and potatoes
1 ½ pounds (approx) marble or grape-sized potatoes, washed, but left unpeeled
1 ¼ pounds (approx) chanterelles or other wild mushrooms, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces.
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Place a large pan into oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
Place potatoes and mushrooms into a large bowl, and drizzle with oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
When the pan and oven are up to temp, pour vegetables onto pan into one even layer. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender, and mushrooms are brown and crispy around the edges, stirring every 10 minutes.
Although The Kid might strenuously disagree with this statement, I usually don’t like to lecture. But in this case, I feel that I must make a point.
I’m not sure that we always remember how fortunate we are as Americans. The quantity and quality of our choices with which to stock our pantries is almost obscene. Within thirty minutes of my house there are probably fifty different places to shop for our dinner. The only limits are money and imagination.
Even if I am cooking something as common and prosaic as hamburger, tomatoes or egg noodles, I feel the need to honor the food. To treat each ingredient as lovingly and skillfully as I am able. Not only am I paying basic respect to the cow, farmer, or noodle maker, the flavors that result will reflect the care I have taken.
Heavy sauces and complicated cooking procedures originally became popular to hide wonky, and even rancid food.
But because of the plethora of choices, and superlative quality the best thing we can do is to get out of our food’s way and let it shine.
Thanks for your time.