If you’re looking for an earthy ingredient, look no further than mushrooms, especially wild, foraged ones fresh with the smell and taste of the forest floor.
Mushrooms are the meat of the vegetarian world. They offer a meaty umami flavor to many dishes. Umami is a Japanese word which translates to pleasant savory taste.
Foraging for your own wild mushrooms requires knowing what’s safe and what’s not. Lurking among the safe ones are varieties that can make you very ill and even kill you. That said, know your source.
As you can tell from the photo below, it’s fresh chanterelle time in the Willamette Valley.
Mike told me we will continue to enjoy chanterelles until the first big freeze. At $6 a pound from him, I hope they keep coming for a while. I’ve seen them sell for $18 a pound in local supermarkets.
Twice now I have used these babies to make a warm mushroom-studded salad. The recipe I used as a model is from a 2008 issue of Bon Appétit. It’s a recipe that can adapt to other ingredients, too.
I couldn’t find speck for the first salad so I substituted Prosciutto. Speck is a lightly cured and smoked pork product. Alas, the Vin Santo in the original recipe was not to be found in Salem that day so I used Marsala instead with great success.
I located a local source for Speck at Chop Butchery and Charcuterie inside City Market in Portland. City Market is a collective made up of Chop Butchery, Pastaworks, and Newman’s Fish Company. An impressive selection of wines and beautiful produce are also available. Pastaworks keeps a nice variety of cheeses as well as outstanding handmade fresh pasta.
Warm Chanterelle Salad with Speck, Poached Eggs and Marsala Vinaigrette
- ¾ cup Marsala or Vin Santo
- 2½ tablespoons Sherry vinegar
- 2 shallots, finely minced
- ¾ hazelnut or walnut oil
- Reduce the wine in a small saucepan to about 2 tablespoons, which will take 5 minutes or so.
- Whisk in remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper.
- 1 pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and cut into ½-inch slices
- ¼ cup olive oil + 2 tablespoons
- 2 cloves garlic, mashed through a press
- 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- ¼ pound speck or prosciutto, thinly sliced
- 4-8 thick slices rustic French bread
- 1 clove garlic, halved lengthwise
- Additional olive oil for drizzling over toasted bread
- 8 fresh large eggs poached and held over in an ice water bath*
- 10-12 cups Boston lettuce, roughly torn into pieces
- About 3 cups arugula or a mixture of salad greens
- Toss the cleaned and sliced chanterelles with ¼ cup oil, mashed garlic, and thyme.
- Roast in a 500º F oven for 5-6 minutes.
- Remove and set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan.
- Add speck or Prosciutto and sauté until lightly crisp.
- Toast the bread slices under a broiler until golden brown.
- Rub with the garlic.
- Drizzle or spray with some olive oil.
- Gently reheat the poached eggs in boiling water about 30 seconds but no longer than 1 minute and remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Toss the lettuce and greens with some of the vinaigrette to coat and spread on a large platter, or plate individually.
- Top with the chanterelles, speck or Prosciutto, and then the poached eggs and toasted bread.
* Here’s a video on poaching eggs with ease. Although the video says to poach for 4 minutes, I poach for 3½ minutes when I’m holding them for any length of time in ice water.