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"Kachka" Cookbook: Braised Chanterelles & Potatoes

Braised Chanterellles and Potatoes.png
Braised Chanterellles and Potatoes.png

Kachka is the debut cookbook from Portland chef Bonnie Morales. It's a blend of recipes and stories-- about Russian culture, food and childhood memories. Bonnie joined us to share one of her favorites that just happens to feature a favorite Northwest ingredient--chanterelles.

BRAISED CHANTERELLES AND POTATOES

Excerpted from the book KACHKA by Bonnie Frumkin Morales. Copyright © 2017 by Bonnie Frumkin Morales. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved.

My brother is a 1990s hippie: toured with Phish every summer, wore the same Mexican poncho for weeks on end. In 2000, he followed his hacky-sack-playing brethren to Portland. He was the first in my very tight-knit extended family to move from Chicago, and this was viewed with much skepticism—why would he choose this wild western outpost? It turned out he had good reason—in addition to fine beer, good food, and actual civilization (who knew?), the Pacific Northwest is absolutely overflowing with forest treasures like chanterelles.

Chanterelles, or lisichki in Russian, are highly coveted in the motherland. My brother would bring bucketloads of them back to Chicago whenever he visited, hitting the farmer’s market on the way to the airport to arrive with a sort of peace offering. My mother would instantly snap them up and cook this dish.

Chanterelles have a delicate taste, and take well to a hearty-yet-gentle preparation. The cream works its way into the mushrooms, the mushroom flavor suffuses the potatoes, and everything just becomes deliciously rich and transformed. Don’t think about adding any other ingredients to this dish—the beauty is in its simplicity, letting the fragile flavor of chanterelles come through undisputed.

SERVES 4 TO 6 AS A MAIN DISH

  • 2 pounds chanterelles
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1½ cups smetana (page 351) or European-style sour cream
  • 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½-inch chunks

Fill a large bowl or salad spinner with water, then thoroughly clean the mushrooms by dunking them in and vigorously swishing them around to shake loose any debris. Remove quickly, and repeat the process with fresh water until all the mushrooms are clean. Spread the mushrooms out on clean dish towels to dry.

Tear any very large chanterelles into halves or quarters. Heat a medium-sized Dutch oven or heavy-sided pot over medium heat, and melt the butter. Add the mushrooms and cook down, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms give off their liquid and it mostly evaporates, about 10 minutes (you can cover the pot until the liquid comes out, so that the mushrooms don’t scorch, but then remove the cover to help the liquid cook off).

While the mushrooms are cooking, whisk together the heavy cream, smetana, and salt. When the mushrooms have cooked down, pour in the cream mixture, and stir everything together. Add the potatoes and stir again, coating everything with the braising liquid. Bring the mixture to a simmer and partially cover (leave a small crack to let steam escape), then reduce the heat until it’s just high enough to maintain the gentlest possible simmer. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours, or until the potatoes and cream have both turned a light golden brown, and the liquid has cooked down a bit but is still saucy. Check it once an hour or so to see that things are moving along (no need to stir). Serve hot, with a bit of crusty bread to sop up the sauce if desired.