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Cantherellus cibarius, the golden chanterelle, grows on forest floors, often near conifers, deciduous trees, but also in fields, beginning in July and ending as late as January. The genusCantharellus, named for the Greek kantharos, meaning cup, is a mushroom found growing wild throughout the world. Efforts to cultivate these mycorrhizal fungi have failed, because it is impossible to recreate the complex symbiotic relationship they have with host plants.
While the shape can vary, from the young chanterelle with a small, rounded cap to the mature mushroom with a flower-like, unfurled cap, the color is distinctive. The beautiful golden-orange cap with a goblet shape is easily spotted on the forest floor; though there are some toxic lookalikes. The jack-o-lantern mushroom is also orange in color, but is found growing in clumps, which chanterelles never do, having a gregarious growth habit (that is, singly, but clustered near each other).
The chanterelle has firm, meaty flesh and an ethereal fruity, apricot aroma and flavor, though these grow fainter as the mushroom ages. The texture also varies with size and age. When young, buttons are firm, but the larger they grow, the more fragile the flesh becomes. Brown or frayed edges of the cap indicate drying and that the flavor is dissipated.
Chanterelle stems are solid, not hollow, and the surface of the mushroom is smooth. Flesh ranges in color from white to pale yellow. The underside of the cap has false gills–rounded gill-like ridges that branch irregularly and run down the stem—which is one of its identifying features. Chanterelles contain beta carotene and vitamin D & B as well as the minerals potassium, copper and selenium.
Consumed and relished around the world, the chanterelle is known in Italy as girolle and in Germany as pfifferling, and is one of the most prized mushrooms in culinary circles. In fact, Elias Fries, a 19th century Swedish mycologist, declared the chanterelle to be “one of the most important and best edible mushrooms.”
Wild mushrooms can present a challenge to clean. The chanterelle cap folds tightly and has crevices that collect debris, from pine needles to bugs and dirt. The caps will grow around twigs, so it might be necessary to cut out sections of mushroom that have embedded sticks. Cut off the foot of the mushroom stem where dirt tends to clump.
Use ice cold water to rinse chanterelles, but wash quickly and dry thoroughly. Or use a dry toothbrush or a mushroom brush to remove surface dirt and sand. Brush the false gills under running water, or cut them out entirely if they are filled with dirt. Drain on paper towels to remove any moisture. The time taken in the cleaning process is rewarded when you don’t have to spit out debris later.
For such an ethereal looking mushroom, the flavor of the chanterelle is powerful. The golden chanterelle has apricot nuances and a slightly peppery punch that pair well with cream and butter. And it’s hard to mask the flavor, even with cheese, which makes them an ideal wild edible for all kinds of cooking. Chanterelles complement pork, chicken, rabbit, veal and quail, either in a stuffing or with a sauce.
A simple sauté with olive oil and shallots will allow you to experience the full flavor of this extraordinary mushroom. Use chanterelles anywhere you would use a mushroom: on a burger, in risotto, quiche, in a white wine sauce, or simply sautéed with butter and fresh herbs. Many believe this mushroom needs little more than a generous amount of butter and some salt and pepper.
Chanterelles and pasta make a natural pair, as do eggs and chanterelles. Chanterelle mushrooms will add depth to stews and can be miraculous with scallops or shellfish.
Chanterelles are suitable for drying and maintain their aroma and flavor well, though the texture is entirely altered, tending to be chewy. Dried chanterelles can be pulverized into flour and used as a seasoning in soups and sauces, especially creamy ones.
NOTE: Do not eat mushrooms you have found in the wild unless they are identified by a mushroom expert as100% safe.
D’Artagnan owner Ariane Daguin recently traveled to Savigno, a small town near Bologna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. She was there to talk with one of our truffle suppliers about the upcoming winter truffle season and tour their new facility where truffles are inspected, graded, cleaned and sometimes made into prepared products, like peelings and butters. The small, family-owned operation is also home to a petit tartuferia where Ariane had the privilege to do a little hunting. She searched the bases of 10 year old oak and chestnut trees for tuber aestivum and with the help of a Lagotto Romagnolo dog, named Pipa, and a few of the family’s grandkids, made quite a haul. Check out the pics.
Ostrich is making a comeback. “When was it in?” you may ask. If you are racking your brain to recall he last time the large flightless bird had any culinary cachet, you’d have to look back to ancient Rome. That was when the noted gastronome Apicius created a special sauce for boiled ostrich, an expensive delicacy. It included pepper, mint, cumin, celery seeds, dates, honey, vinegar, garum (fish sauce), and passum (a sweet wine pressed from grapes dried on the vine).
Apicius’s feasts were extravagant by any measure, even when compared with those that followed in the Middle Ages. Any bird that can grow to 9 feet tall and weigh up to 400 pounds has to be quite an undertaking to prepare. However, don’t start custom-building an oven to roast the whole bird, since from the cook’s point of view, ostrich is nothing but two huge legs.
In present-day ostrich farming, the ideal age for processing birds for their meat is between 12 and 16 months, when they weigh between 250 and 300 pounds. The yield is between 85 and 100 pounds of meat, as well as about 14 square feet of ostrich leather. Hens lay between 30 and 60 eggs a season, and can lay as many as 100. The birds can live up to 80 years, and produce for 50 of those. For gargantuan appetites, try an ostrich drumstick; each one weighs a hefty 30 to 40 pounds.
The growth of the ostrich industry can be attributed to the birds’ beefy red meat, which has less fat than turkey, making it healthful yet satisfying. Ostrich meat comes from the thigh and leg. Its flavor is similar to that of beef fillet and top sirloin steak; and the delicate texture is somewhat like that of venison or flank steak. It is lower in fat, calories and cholesterol than beef, but also white meat like chicken and turkey. Like all game meats, ostrich is lean and must be cooked accordingly.
Ostrich is easily adaptable to all dry-cooking techniques, from stir-fry and barbeque to roasting and sautéing. It also takes well to marinades. For optimum results, slice the meat into medallions and cook quickly over high heat to rare or medium rare, about 140 to 150 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Because it’s so lean, there is almost no shrinkage. To prevent sticking, add a little oil (especially a flavored one) to the pan, or brush the meat with it. Even a short amount of overcooking can make ostrich dry and unappealing. If you stew or braise ostrich, do so over low heat.
Grilled Ostrich Fillet with Cascabel Chili and Honey Glaze
When the titans of football clash in the final game of the season, our passions tend to run high. But there are some of us are more concerned with what we’ll eat during the game. (You know who you are!) For these hardcore food fans, we have some inspiration to class up the party without wandering too far afield from the usual fare.
From truffles and Tarbais beans to mushrooms and merguez, we have found ways to infuse the classics with French accents and D’Artagnan flavors. So get your game on and forget you ever heard of hummus and salsa.
These flavorful skewers highlight quintessential Basque flavors – shrimp, piment d’espelette and jambon de bayonne. Best of all, they’re party perfect in just 15 minutes.
We think popcorn is best when popped the old fashioned way – in a big pot on the stove. We used duck fat (perfection!) then added Black Truffle Butter, Truffle Oil and the finest shreds of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
These spicy links can be charred on the grill or seared in a cast iron pan. The harissa sauce is traditional, as is mustard or aioli. Serve with your favorite full-bodied beer.
Any of our sausages will work in this super easy hors d’oeuvre. Make a lot, they go fast!
We have some Super Bowl main dish ideas brewing… Come back tomorrow for the full rundown! And if you’ve got a great game day menu planned, give us a shout on Twitter or Facebook. We’d love to hear what you’re cooking!
This fall we were proud (and excited!) to introduce a new product, truly sustainable Ossetra Caviar from the Aquitaine region of France. French caviar is still fairly new to the American gourmet scene but it’s quickly becoming a chef and foodie favorite.
We spent countless hours of research to find the right producer. After Ariane and Andy travelled to France to personally inspect the different aqua farms and learn about their practices firsthand, we were confident we found the right producer to become our exclusive partner.
The state-of-the-art aquafarm follows the strictest of animal welfare and environmental protocols – its wastewater actually runs cleaner than the same water at entry. The sturgeon benefit greatly from the exceptionally pure water from breeding through harvesting, resulting in the highest quality available.
Our low-salt Ossetra is harvested at its absolute peak of size, flavor, color and texture. The grains are round, plump and juicy with just the right amount of “pop.” The flavor is fresh and clean, slightly briny with a lingering, soft nutty taste and ultra-silky mouthfeel. The color ranges from clear grey to gold and deep brown.
When serving caviar, freshness is key. Remember caviar is highly perishable and delicate so it should be treated as so. Read more
Just in time for the holidays, we are proud to announce a brand new product in the D’Artagnan lineup! It’s the luxury trifecta of deliciousness: foie gras, truffles, and now CAVIAR!!
But, it’s not just any caviar. It’s sustainable, environmentally friendly, farm-raised Ossetra from the Aquitaine region of France. And it’s unbelievably delicious! The silvery pearls are firm and plump, with a silky mouth feel and with a clean, nutty flavor that lingers… heaven.
On Monday, we were thrilled to attend a book release for the long-awaited, first cookbook of Michelin-starred chef (and D’Artagnan friend), Anita Lo, Chef/owner of annisa in New York City.
Cooking Without Borders was co-written with Charlotte Druckman and published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Snap impression? This book is really good-looking. You can tell a lot of thought has been put into even the smallest details, from its tactile matte paper stock to its watery blue accent colors and perfectly-lit photos. Even the font seems fresh… but as we all know, beauty is fleeting and after closer examination it’s evident that this book will soon be marred with butter stains, dog-eared pages and a dusting of dried spices. This baby is getting used.
The book is eclectic, fresh, refined and accessible. Each recipe is thoughtfully written, from prep to plating, and many have side notes with tips or helpful suggestions. Anita has said she takes inspiration from everywhere – and the dishes run the gamut from her mother’s homey BBQ spareribs to pan-roasted sea scallops with uni & bacon that she cooked on Top Chef Masters to foie gras soup dumplings, a staple on the annisa menu and chicken paprikash, a comforting favorite from her childhood nanny. We were also taken by the richly textured headnotes that accompany each recipe – memories, inspirations, anecdotes – these little stories are what sets this cookbook apart and makes it a “must-have.”
Anita Lo’s Cooking Without Borders is available now.
Exciting news – we’ve expanded our hotel & restaurant division into Chicago, with a shiny new sales force. To celebrate, we’re hosting a special industry event, like no other. It’s our carnivorous coming-out where da bears will meet da ducks!
This Monday night, Chi-town chefs, food & bev professionals, farmers, ranchers and local press will meat & mingle in the French Market and Metra Concourse. Foie gras is on the menu, bien sur! And Ariane will be on-hand for an expert foie demonstration.
Hometown chefs will be manning the stoves – Brian Huston of The Publican, Jean Joho & Thierry Tritsch of Everest, John Hogan of Keefer’s, Tony Mantuano & Sarah Grueneberg of Spiaggia, Greg Biggers of Café des Architectes, and Kevin Hickey & Richard Polhemus of Seasons will all be clad in whites, cooking just for the occasion. It’s sure to be a food event of epic proportions… Stay tuned for updates & pics.