Last month we were in Portland, OR, visiting our son Kyle and daughter-in-law (still just love saying that!) Calla. It was blustery and rainy and very fall-like, which was a nice change for us, because when we left San Diego it was like 80 degrees. Leaves were changing colors and we got to wear sweaters and boots and raincoats (and, believe me, for a San Diegan, this is exciting stuff!)
So what does one do in Portland when it’s grey and a little rainy? Go foraging for chanterelle mushrooms! And now I have to preface this story by saying that every year, around this time, Kyle starts calling us just to brag about the tens of pounds of chanterelle mushrooms they’ve foraged. I get a little envious. Some culinary experts call chanterelles the “king of mushrooms”. According to thekitchn.com, “…they sprout from September to February, and grow wild in woodsy areas. They’re difficult to cultivate, but they sprout easily from forest floors….they have a firm flavor and texture and stand up to cooking and heavy sauces very well. The aroma of a chanterelle is sometimes described as being like a fresh apricot. A warning, though. Chanterelles are expensive!” (Are they ever! I bought them once. At that high-end natural foods market. $24.99 a pound!)
Okay, back to the foraging…Kyle and Calla and their roommate Jesse are quite the mushroomers. They have several “secret” spots around Portland. Kyle took us to one of them. We didn’t find a lot, but enough. And it was really fun.
That night, we made dinner at the kids’ place. We decided that we would use the chanterelles that they already had in the fridge so that Tony and I could bring the ones we foraged back to San Diego with us. Kyle pulled out his favorite recipe…pappardelle pasta with a chanterelle mushroom and lamb ragout and I made Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad. Yu-um!! What a delicious dinner and a really fun evening that culminated with Kyle, Calla and Jesse’s band Gallop practicing in the living room and Caramel Salted Dark Chocolate ice cream from nearby Ruby Jewel. Doesn’t get much better than that!!
When we got home with our little bounty of mushrooms, I was super excited to try a recipe I had clipped from Relish magazine a month or so prior…Caramelized Onion-Chanterelle Tart. Of course, when I first saw it, knowing that our little mushroomers had an abundance of them, I scanned it and sent it to Kyle, who made it the very same night and said it was delicious. After our own foraging expedition, I could hardly wait to try it myself!
Well, it was worth the wait. Kyle was right, it was delicious. I mean, really delicious! The combination of flavors is incredible…savory-sweet onions and earthy mushrooms, Dijon mustard and Gruyere cheese.
Of course, you can make this with any kind of mushroom. But how cool is it that we actually foraged the mushrooms we used??? Forest to table!!
Caramelized Onion & Chanterelle Mushroom Tart
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 tablespoon Dijon country-style (course-grain) mustard
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 medium onions, sliced lengthwise
Sprigs of fresh thyme
4 ounces chanterelle mushrooms (or your favorite mushroom) sliced lengthwise
2 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°.
Roll out pie crust to fit in a 12-inch tart pan. Place in pan and press into the sides. Coat surface with mustard. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool.
To prepare filling, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté 15 minutes. Add salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Scrape into a small bowl.
In the same skillet, melt remaining butter. Add mushrooms and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
Combine eggs and half-and-half and beat until well blended.
Sprinkle about half the cheese on the bottom of tart shell. Spoon in onions. Pour in egg mixture. Place mushrooms all over the top, along with remaining cheese.
Bake 40 minutes, or until tart is golden brown and filling is set. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 12.