I picked up some chanterelles on Friday, the first of the season. I'd arranged for any available mushrooms to be offered to the other people at the wine lunch, but when they saw my mushrooms being delivered to me, it instigated a scene akin to a fungal rape of the Sabines as people were trampled and the foremost took the limited spoils. I hope Jenise got a few.
Anyway, there is a dish I always make at this time of the year because it mates so well with these mushrooms and I thought I'd share it with you.
There is a magical and transitory time each autumn when the first rains come and this is followed shortly by the first local harvest of chanterelles. They pick them small because this is the first harvest and the pickers are anxious to get the cash flow started. Later in the season when they are harvesting areas that weren’t touched earlier, you begin to see the mammoth mushrooms, which to me taste are woodier and coarser. The small mushrooms of the early harvests are definitely the choice tidbits to me.
It just happens that at about this time of year, the anxiously awaited Rosés from Southern France start coming into our local market (I'm sure you get better service elsewhere) – the wines we could have used much earlier in the summer.
The conjunction of that wine and those mushrooms climaxes, for me, in a dish I make that goes so perfectly with the wine that I just have to sit back and have another glass in wonder. Here it is:
Make a pastry shell for a 9” pie pan and make enough for a top too.
Sauté a half a chopped onion and 4 cloves of chopped (or pressed) garlic. Before they start to get too coloured, whack in about 2 pounds of lightly chopped (and cleaned, of course) chanterelles, and lightly brown (more just a tinge of gold, you know what I mean) them.
As they are almost done, add at least 4 tsp each of fresh sage, thyme and rosemary (to taste – I usually use more) and about 3 tbsp. chopped sundried tomatoes.
Stir that around a bit and then take a bunch of spinach that you’ve cleaned and whacked off the stems, and spread it over the top of the shrooms and put the lid on until it wilts and you can stir it in. Take that off the heat and drain in a colander.
Take 1 potato and peel and grate it fairly finely.
Beat 3 large eggs and add 2-3 tsp of Dijon mustard –mix. Add salt and pepper (c. 1 tsp each) and the grated potato. Add 1 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts – this is important – gives not only flavour but great texture.
Add the mushroom mixture to the egg mixture and stir, then plop it down on the lower pastry crust and spread it out. Put the top shell on and bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes – just keep an eye on your pastry.
Haul it out and let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes and then serve with a chilled flagon of Rosé – I used Ch. Guiot from Nimes and it was magnificent. A great wine and food match is one that elevates both to heights unachieved alone. This is one of those rare cases. Enjoy.