This way to the mushrooms.
This fall, work and general busyness almost kept us from making the long and bumpy trip down the winding dirt road that leads to our secret foraging spot.
Luckily we did manage to make it out during the final moments of chanterelle season. The first freeze found many of the mushrooms before we did, and spent chanterelles littered the forest floor. We mourned their passing as we collected the specimens still in their prime.
At least the ones our helpful pup didn't trample.
The weather turned as if to say, "It's too late!"
But we braved the mud and the cold and the rain to find gold.
Then, as we made our way out of the woods, the snow started.
And just like that, chanterelle season was over.
Before I get to what I made with our prize…Remember how I told you that the Steaks with Chipotle Cream Sauce recipe from Seared to Perfection was featured in The Washington Post? Well since then, the recipe has appeared in the Daily Herald, the Pioneer Press, the Northwest Herald, The Buffalo News, The Seattle Times, and The Herald Sun. It even made it all the way to Qatar in The Peninsula! Now, how cool is that?!
Anyway, back to the chanterelles…
Chicken Braised with Chanterelles
4 10 to 12-ounce chicken leg quarters
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¾ pound chanterelles, torn into bite-size pieces
2 strips bacon, diced
4 shallots, sliced
¼ cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup cream
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
Season the chicken leg quarters generously with salt and pepper and set aside at room temperature for about half an hour.
Heat a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken leg quarters skin side down and cook without disturbing for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they release from the pan and are crusty and brown. Using tongs, turn the chicken leg quarters and continue to cook over medium-high heat another 4 to 5 minutes, or until brown.* The chicken should not be cooked through at this point. Remove the chicken to a plate. Add the chanterelles to the pot and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chanterelles to the plate with the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the bacon to the pot, and fry, tossing frequently, for 6 to 7 minutes, or until rendered. Using the slotted spoon, remove the bacon to the plate with the chicken.
Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pot. Add the shallots to the pot and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the wine and simmer for a minute or so, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a heat-proof spatula. Return the chicken, chanterelles, and bacon to the pot and add the broth, cream, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the chicken is fork tender and the meat shrinks away from the bones. Remove the chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Simmer the braising liquid for 10 to 12 minutes, or until thickened and saucy. Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprig and season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken leg quarters on individual plates, divide the sauce among them, and serve immediately.
Serves 4. Perfect over a bed of long grain white rice. Vary this dish by using morels in the springtime.
*Searing the chicken in this manner adds tons of flavor to the finished dish. For everything you ever wanted to know about searing, plus dozens of fabulous searing recipes, look for my book Seared to Perfection in stores now.