Dinner Tonight: Warm Chanterelle and Pancetta Salad

I recently had the good fortune of spending an afternoon with a someone well-versed in the art of mushroom hunting who took me on a search for edible fungi in the forest. Hiding under leaves, behind trees, and tucked away in the moss, the volume of mushrooms is inspiring if you know what to look for. On the other hand, I had little idea what would kill me. My regular refrain—"can we eat this one?"—grew rather tiresome. So I trained my hunting efforts on one variety: the chanterelle. Its bright-orange color is easy to spot and makes identification a breeze. By the end of the afternoon we had a whole bagful of them, dirt and leaves still clinging to their undersides.

Much of the mushroom haul ended up simply sautéed and tossed with pasta. But this recipe, adapted from Saveur, was also good. It reminded me a bit of Frisée aux Lardons, which depends on the sharp, bitter frisée to stand up to a warm dressing of rich bacon and a poached egg.

The richness here comes from the heady mushrooms, pancetta, and shallots. A combination of lemon juice and red wine vinegar goes into the sauté pan to pick up all the lovely caramelized bits, then is whisked with olive oil to create a warm vinaigrette. It makes for a lovely fall salad.

Dinner Tonight: Warm Chanterelle and Pancetta Salad

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About This Recipe

Yield:4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 pound pancetta or good bacon, diced
  • 2 shallots, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 pound chanterelle mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 4 large handfuls of mixed greens (frisée, arugula, or bibb lettuce)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Procedures

  1. 1

    In a medium-sized skillet, slowly cook the pancetta or bacon over low heat until crisp, about 20 minutes. In the meantime, trim and prepare the mushrooms and prepare the other ingredients. Drain on paper towels and pour away all but a thin film of fat in the pan.

  2. 2

    Raise heat to medium; sauté the shallots until tender. Raise heat to high; add the mushrooms and pine nuts. Continue cooking until mushrooms release their water then begin to brown. Brown for an additional few minutes, then transfer to a bowl with the pancetta or bacon.

  3. 3

    Add the vinegar to the pan to deglaze, scraping up brown bits, then whisk in the olive oil to make a dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  4. 4

    Toss the greens with the mushroom mixture, then add the warm vinaigrette and toss again. Finish with freshly cracked black pepper.

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