Yeah, I’m the person they put the Almond Roca and pretty decorator tissue packets at the check out counter for. They know I can’t resist yummy and pretty when set right before me. The same goes for the Market, and right now, chanterelles are the yummy and pretty Siren that beckons me from the front of several stands.
With plenty of rain recently, chanterelles are plentiful right now and I am dying to buy them and eat them! But because of their short season, and cost, this year between $15 and $24 per pound at our Market, I don’t usually cook with chanterelles alone; I usually include them in small amounts mixed with other mushrooms in sautés or soups. But last Sunday, feeling for some reason much more carefree than usual, I took the plunge and purchased an entire pound of them. Now, how best to honor their position as one of the kings of the mushroom world.
In case you did not know (I did not) the word chanterelle has its roots in the Greek word kantharos, which means drinking vessel and the Latin word cantharellus, small goblet. Small goblet is an apt description of their shape. If you have not seen a chanterelle before, they are umbrella shaped, but instead of having a rounded convex top like the mushrooms you see at the grocery store, they have a concave top, making them look kind of like bulky martini glasses. The golden chanterelle, which is happily sprouting up in the local oak and pine forests, is a pale apricot color and ranges in size from very small to very large, and everything in between. They tend to be somewhat dirty, again, they grow on the forest floor under trees, but don’t let this deter you, they are easy to clean (more on that later). The best ones are free of dark spots, not dried out, and will have a smooth as opposed to frilly edge on their caps.
The recipe I chose to try this week was Pork Tenderloin with Chanterelles from Julee Rosso’s Great Good Food. (Julee is also co-author of The Silver Palate Cookbooks.) Most of the ingredients you will probably already have in your kitchen, and the shallots, sage and, of course, chanterelles can all be purchased at the Market. La Funghi and Trevino Farms have the chanterelles, Living Lettuce Farms and Scarborough Farms the sage, and Gama, Yang, and a few others have shallots.
I want to interject a quick reminder here - don’t believe everything you hear because, contrary to popular food lore, you can wash mushrooms with water, and I recommend that you do. The prevailing theory is that washing mushrooms will make them soggy. Not true. Mushrooms are 80 percent water, and if quickly washed in water, will not absorb water. Don’t believe me, go to the library, or your local bookstore and find food scientist Harold McGee’s book The Curious Cook, wherein Mr. McGee, through the miracle of modern science, debunks the mushroom washing myth, among others. That said, don’t wash the chanterelles until just before you are ready to use them, they will get slimy if you wash them and then put them in the refrigerator for any length of time.
Now that you are an expert on how to wash a mushroom, and the dinner hour is quickly approaching, time to scrub. A soft brush (an old toothbrush is perfect) and some cold water make quick work of cleaning. Chanterelles are very sturdy mushrooms and, I have found, can take a fair amount of brushing and still remain beautifully intact. Under gently running cold water brush between the gills on the underside of the mushroom to dislodge any grit, soil or leaves, and gently rub or brush the same off of the top of the mushroom. You don’t need to trim away the stem of the mushroom unless it looks like it might be tough, or it just won’t come clean.
This recipe is fairly quick and easy, and as usual, I didn’t follow it exactly. Julee recommends that you refrigerate the pork tenderloin for a minimum of 4 hours. I didn’t have 4 hours so I let it rest for about 30 minutes. It was great in spite of its shortened naptime. I also didn’t use 2 pounds of mushrooms. That was a little out of my budget, and once I cooked the pound that I had, I discovered was completely unnecessary. One pound was more than enough for four people, even with everyone going for seconds on the mushrooms.
On the flip side, one pound of tenderloin would not have been enough for four. I used 1-½ pounds and there was nothing left. Had I not had all of the side dishes that I did, I don’t think that 1 1/2 pounds would have been enough. So, I recommend 2 pounds of pork tenderloin. If you have leftovers, it makes a great sandwich the next day. Because I used more meat than the recipe called for, I also increased the seasoning accordingly. And finally, (my last affront to the original recipe) I did not tie the pork with string. I simply folded the thinner part of the meat under the thicker part, until it was a uniform looking log of meat.
While you are letting the pork rest for half an hour, you too should take a quiet break to sit and dream about all of the wonderful events that will be taking place at the Market in the month of December. The ARC hand bell choir will be on hand on November 27th, Thanksgiving weekend, to serenade Market goers with some of their holiday cheer. Performances will be at 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. in the middle of the Market near Entertaining Elephants and the Market Manager’s Table. The following Sunday, December 4, The Exceptional Children’s Foundation will be exhibiting and selling its member’s art work - a great idea for a holiday gift. Your purchase benefits not only the Foundation, but part of the money goes directly to the artists themselves - a great way to bring a smile to two people’s faces during the holiday season.
And finally Pirate Santa will be at the Market on December 18, along with several of his pirate cronies, for our annual Free Pictures with Santa event. Local merchant and pirate enthusiast Clay Clement has published his first children’s book, Pirate Santa, and it is getting rave reviews. You may remember Clay and his cohorts from the Studio City Fourth of July Festival. They’re back to help spread the holiday spirit. For more on his book, and to see Pirate Santa’s blog, go to www.piratesanta.com.
Now for the recipe:
Pork Tenderloin with Chanterelles
Adapted from Great Good Food by Julee Rosso
4 tsp sugar
3 tsp coarsely ground pepper (or less if you don’t want it to be spicy)
2 tsp coarsely ground sea salt (I used regular sea salt from a can)
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp ground cumin
2 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat (and really there shouldn’t be any, and silver skin, usually won’t be any, but sometimes the butchers don’t remove this part)
2 Tbsp peanut or olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 shallots finely chopped
1 pound chanterelles, cleaned and sliced
6 fresh sage leaves, chopped, or ½ tsp dried
1 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine the sugar, pepper, salt, coriander and cumin in a small bowl. Rub the tenderloin all over with this mixture and wrap in plastic or put in a covered container and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or as long as 24 hours.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook the tenderloin in a lightly oiled baking dish. Tuck the skinny end of the tenderloin under the fatter end, so that you get a uniform sized log of meat. Rub with half of the oil and roast for 15 minutes. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the pork and roast for 30 more minutes, or until the internal temperature is 155 degrees on a meat thermometer. Baste the pork once or twice with pan juices during the last 30 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the pork. Because of its low fat content, it will get dried out and chewy if cooked too long.
Remove from oven, baste one more time with the pan juices and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the remaining oil over high heat. Sauté the shallots, sage and chanterelles for 5 to 10 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits, and cook until the liquid is reduced and slightly thick, about 5 minutes.
Slice the pork, put on a platter and top with the mushroom mixture.
Rice or roasted potatoes go well with this dish, as does applesauce or fried apples. (I love pork and apples together.)
One final note, don’t be late on Sunday. This is the last Market before Thanksgiving and it will be a scramble to get certain items. I have been warned that if you want potatoes and/or fresh eggs, don’t dally. See you on Sunday.