Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chanterelle, My Belle...

You and pasta go together well,
My Chanterelle.

Ah, Chanterelle Mushrooms.... the scent of apricots, forest floor, and black pepper waft through the kitchen, making my mouth water as I try to prepare dinner.

The Chanterelle is an important mushroom here in western Oregon, for there aren't a lot of sunny days here.  Especially some the Fall.  Thus we all tend to run a little low in vitamin D.  Granted most milk is artificially fortified with it, but it's a minuscule amount and there are those of use who do not drink milk.  When ones diet is lacking in copious amounts of "moo juice" and the sun spends most of its time hiding behind cumulonimbus, we turn to other sources of the elusive "Sun Vitamin".  Enter the Chanterelle....  with up to 2500 IU per 100 grams of weight. 

This is an important consideration, since Vitamin D production in the skin only occurs when the UV factor is above a 3.  Why is Vitamin D so important?  That is a good question, considering that this fat soluble substance isn't really even a vitamin.

Nope, it's a secosteroid hormone.  I am not going to get in the full metabolism that is necessary to create the "Active" form your body actually uses, but suffice it to say that it is the most active hormone in the body.  Active D is responsible for unlocking the binding sites on the human genome (there are 2,700 sites) as well as controlling the calcium level in your blood.  There has even been research into your own cells' ability to utilize D in fighting some 17 types of cancer.  Pretty darned impressive I'd say. 

Sadly, if you are not out in the sun absorbing UVB for at least 30 minutes a day, then you are deficient in D.  You can take a supplement, but most are sorely lacking in the amount of viable D that one needs.  Thus, most of us are running around with a significant shortage of this vital vitamin (5,000 IU per day).  To get enough, per day, from milk, you would have to imbibe somewhere around 50 glasses and most multi-vitamins would require the consumption of up to 10 pills before you have replenished your D stores. 

All that being said, there are other ways of getting D into your system, especially in the winter.  For in the temperate climates the Chanterelle mushroom is available from September to April.  AWESOME! 

So with that I present to you a dish that is High in D as well as C & potassium.  Granted, this is a little high in fat, but I am on a roll with the Mascarpone sauces.  This is a variation of the Spinach Mascarpone pasta that I made a week ago.  Earthy & spicy chanterelles and shallots, sauted in olive oil, deglaced with white wine, a touch of chicken stock to round out the flavors... a delicate hint of tarragon (cause mushrooms + cream + tarragon = bliss) all bound together with, that ever so unctuous, Mascarpone with a touch of Parmigiano-Reggiano.  It's heaven on a plate.

Torchiette with Chanterelle Mascarpone Cream

10-12 oz Chanterelle Mushrooms
3 TB Olive oil
2 medium Shallots, minced
1/2 cup White Wine (I chose Pinot Gris)
1 tsp fresh Tarragon, chopped fine (just a pinch if using dried
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
Black Pepper, freshly ground
8 oz Mascarpone
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
optional fresh Chives
optional shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

Clean the Chanterelles, then dry them with a paper towel.
Slice off the very bottoms; I usually leave the smaller ones whole and slice the larger ones in half.

Place a large stock pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil for the pasta, I like Torchiette (little torches) for this, cause the shape kind of reflects that of the mushrooms.

Meanwhile, heat Olive Oil in a saute pan over medium heat.

When hot, add the minced shallots and sweat until soft.

Add the Chanterelle mushrooms and cook until they begin to soften. (They don't throw off water the way button mushrooms do)

Deglace the pan with 1/2 cup of White wine.

Stir in the tarragon. (It releases more flavor in acids like the wine)

Continue cooking until the wine has evaporated, then add the Chicken Stock.

Cook until the chicken stock has reduced by half and thickened slightly.

Remove from the heat, and stir in the Mascarpone, to create a nice cream sauce.

Season with Black Pepper.

Drain the pasta and place in a warm bowl.

Pour the mushroom mixture over the pasta and toss to coat evenly.

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and toss again until incorporated.

Serve with clipped chives (kitchen sheers are excellent for this) and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.



Dajana said...

I just recently use chanterelle mushrooms in two pasta recipes and I was delighted how tasty they are. Mascarpone must have been a nice touch to create a creamy sauce.

Patti T. said...

If that truly isn't heaven on a plate then I don't know what is. I have seen so many great recipes calling for mascarpone lately. This one definitely tops them all.

DutchBakerGirl said...

Wow--this is timely (and tasty!) for me. I was just given a prescription for vitamin D as well as calcium. It's serious, especially for women. Imagine Osteoperosis at my age. Ugh. I am picking up a package of Chanterelles and some mascarpone today. Thanks, Shane. You write some marvelous stuff.