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I always find myself buying chanterelles because I really like them when I eat them somewhere where the chef knew what he/she was doing. I always end up with an inedible mess -- or at least something that is significantly less tasty than what I expected.

Clarification: I'm not looking for a recipe that uses chanterelles, but the basic technique to prepare the mushrooms themselves.

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What exactly is inedible or messy about your chanterelles? Maybe you could give an example of a recipe that uses them but doesn't work for you? – Jefromi Aug 11 '11 at 13:58
They mostly end up as either a pulp or too rubbery. Again, I am not talking about a specific recipe but about the chanterelles themselves: the consistency and taste seems to be hugely different from what I know can be done. – bitmask Aug 11 '11 at 16:50
Yep, I know you're not talking about a recipe, but in order for people to help you out, it often helps to know what you're doing. It sounds like advice on how best to fry/saute them is what you were looking for - but I've certainly heard of people cooking them in the oven too. – Jefromi Aug 11 '11 at 17:10
Ah, I see. Yes I was thinking about frying them, but I am certainly open for suggestions! – bitmask Aug 11 '11 at 17:20
I had the same experience with my chanterelles, fresh from the forest. They got limp and slimy! I'm going to try the dry frying first next time. – user14400 Nov 21 '12 at 20:41
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The basic technique that I've found effective is to "dry fry" them in a pan to allow water to cook off before adding any other wet or fat ingredients, including oil or butter. If you skip this step, you'll often end up with a bit of a rubbery texture. I recommend cooking them in a small cast-iron pan, but a nonstick pan will do.

I usually season with little more than shallots and/or garlic, plus butter, salt and pepper. But I always add the butter after a fair amount of water has been extracted from the mushrooms and cooked off.

Chanterelles seem to have a lot more water than most other mushrooms. I haven't verified that scientifically, but I tried following the same technique with button or small crimini mushrooms, and little to no water comes out in dry frying. (Large crimini mushrooms, also called portabella mushrooms, will give off a fair amount of water when roasted, but nothing quite like fresh chanterelles). Shiitake and even oyster mushrooms don't give off much, either.

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I just ran a quick test with 3 pieces of different sizes, and it seems they're getting better, the more you deprive them of water. Perhaps I didn't use to fry them enough, and with too much liquid. – bitmask Aug 11 '11 at 16:52
I'll just add that you shouldn't fry too many mushrooms in one go or you'll be steaming them rather than dry-frying. – Chris Steinbach Aug 11 '11 at 20:06

Dip them in an egg wash (milk/egg) followed by a dredge in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Deep fry until golden brown. Delicious!

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