Eric Akis: Chanterelle mushrooms make great steak sauce

Eric Akis

Wild B.C. chanterelle mushrooms are in-season and, if you’ve not harvested them yourself from a nearby forest, you’ll find them available at farm markets and some grocery stores.

They are different varieties of trumpet-shaped chanterelles, but the golden-hued type is what you’ll most often see for sale. It’s a popular mushroom to cook with because of its eye-appealing shape and colour, pleasing, slightly chewy texture, delicate, but complex flavour, and culinary flexibility.

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In the past I’ve used chanterelles in such things as appetizers, focaccia, crostini, soups, pastas, risotto, fish dishes, coq au vin and beef stew. Today, though, I’ve used them in a sumptuous sauce for tender, AAA, beef strip loin steaks.

To make it, I started by simmering and reducing some beef stock, red wine and thyme to concentrate their flavours. Whipping cream, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper were added, the mixture was brought back to a simmer, and then the pot was removed from the heat.

I then seared two strip loin steaks in a hot skillet to my desired doneness. They then came out of the pan and were kept warm in a low oven while I finished the sauce.

That process began with me sautéing some small whole and halved chanterelle mushrooms in the skillet I cooked the steak in. Chopped shallots and garlic were then separately stirred in and cooked awhile. I then poured in the stock/wine/cream mixture and brought this sauce for the steaks to a simmer.

The last step was to plate the steaks and top them with the rich chanterelle mushroom sauce. I served the steaks with roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots, which I have a recipe for below. I also served them with mashed, skin-on, yellow-fleshed potatoes. There’s no recipe for it, simply simmer halved or quartered pieces of unpeeled yellow-fleshed potatoes until tender. Drain well, thoroughly mash, and then mix in melted butter, warm milk, salt and pepper, to taste.

When buying chanterelles, choose intact, tightly formed, firm and dry ones. If in very good condition, they’ll keep in a paper bag in the refrigerator several days.

The chanterelles I bought were very clean, but if you did need to remove any forest debris on them, do that with a small, fine brush and/or paper towel. If debris got into the gills, quickly rinse it out with cold water and then immediately drain mushrooms on a towel.

Seared Strip Loin Steaks with Chanterelle Mushroom Sauce

A luxurious meal for two that sees tender, juicy strip loin steaks seared, plated and topped with a sauce rich with chanterelle mushrooms, wine, cream and other good things.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes

Makes: two servings

1/2 cup homemade or store-bought (no salt) beef stock

1/4 cup red wine

1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme, or pinch dried

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tsp Dijon mustard

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 (1-inch-thick) strip loin steaks

4 tsp olive oil (divided)

16 to 20 (about 100 grams) small fresh chanterelle mushrooms, left whole if very small, halved if a little large in size (see Note)

1 Tbsp minced shallots

1 small garlic clove, minced

Place stock, wine and thyme in a small pot. Set over medium, medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer mixture until reduce to 1/4 cup. Add the whipping cream and mustard, return to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, and then remove the pot from the heat and cover.

Preheat oven to 200 F. Pat steaks dry with paper towel, and then season with salt and pepper. Place 2 tsp oil in a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. When oil is very hot, add steaks and pan-sear to the desired doneness, allowing about 3 minutes per side for rare, and 3 to 4 for medium rare. Transfer steaks to heatproof pan and keep warm in the oven.

Set the skillet you seared the steaks in over medium heat and add the remaining 2 tsp oil.

Add the mushrooms and cook and stir three minutes. Mix in the shallots and cook and stir 2 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender. Mix in garlic and cook one minute more.

Add the stock/wine/cream mixture to the skillet, bring to a simmer, and simmer one or two minutes.

Set a steak on each of two dinner plates. Mix any juices on the heatproof plate you held them in the oven on into the chanterelle mushroom sauce. Spoon some of that sauce on each steak and serve.

Note: The caps on the chanterelles I used were about 1- to 2-inches wide. If you have large chanterelles, use fewer of them in the sauce and quartered them, lengthwise.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots

Halved Brussels sprouts and sticks of carrot seasoned and roasted in a hot oven until tender and flavourful. When cooked, cover and keep the vegetables warm in 200 F with the steaks while you make the chanterelle mushroom sauce.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 to 35 minutes

Makes: Two servings

7 medium Brussels sprouts

1 small to medium carrot

1 Tbsp olive oil

• pinches smoked paprika and ground sage

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Trim a little from the stem end of each Brussels sprout. Cut each sprout lengthwise in half and set on the baking sheet.

Peel the carrot. Now quarter the carrot lengthwise. Cut each quarter piece of carrot, widthwise, into 2-inch pieces and set them on the baking sheet.

Drizzle and sprinkle the sprouts and carrots with the oil, paprika, sage, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast, stirring the vegetables once or twice, for 30 minutes, or until richly coloured and tender.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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