Ever since the calendar flipped to September, we’ve been getting out for longer hikes with the pups. It seems so late, yet in all honesty, I really do loathe hiking during the height of summer. It’s just too damn hot and buggy and busy. Sure we rise at puke-thirty in the morning and hit the trail long before the sun does, but by the time we’re heading back down the sun is a Giant Death Ray in the sky intent on broiling us for supper. By September, waking pre-dawn feels more reasonable on the body and the midday sun – while still toasty – is not nearly as oppressive when paired with cool mountain air. Most of all, I love that morning starts now require a warm jacket, gloves, and a warm hat as we pass through a blue-hued world delicately fringed in short-lived feathery white ice crystals.
above treeline in september, when one doesn’t spontaneously combust
meadows of gold and red are taking over the alpine as autumn arrives
We no longer run the fans at night to expel hot air from the house and draw cooler nighttime air in. It’s enough to open the windows and allow the chill to settle overnight. Before you know it, snuggy flannel sheets will replace our cotton sheets. The pups have already taken to cuddling on the bed each morning. Best of all, it’s huckleberry season. This year hasn’t been kind to the huckleberries, many of which are either green (due to a very late snowpack) and will likely get slammed by a hard frost before they even think of blushing pink then purple, or have already died on the stem and turned ghost white. Most of our secret patches have fizzled, but a couple managed to produce decent purple berries. Erin and I only took a few and left the rest for the grouse and bears and squirrels and everyone else who knows about the best berry in the land.
snuggy pups enjoying morning amnesty on the human bed
an early morning picking huckleberries with erin and banjo
I’ve only been foraging chanterelles for as many years as Neva is old – four years. Some years these beautiful, fragrant fungi flush early and some years they flush late. This season my chanterelle patches began with a promising effort and then the lack of rain caused them to shrivel and die. Whatever we managed to forage early on was all we had to show for the summer. It was better than last year’s haul (which was nonexistent), but not big enough for me to be throwing chanterelles in every dish I made.
pushing up through the forest duff
young ones are just as tasty as big ones
I set aside two-thirds of our chanterelles for sautéeing in butter and freezing them. The other third I reserved for new recipes including this simple chanterelle wine and cream sauce over seared pork chops. Doesn’t that sound lovely? It’s so good. SO GOOD. The pork chops can be pan-seared however you like. If cooked in the traditional way, I prefer Kenji’s method which involves bone-in, dry brined pork chops. But more recently I’ve been cooking my pork chops using Kenji’s sous vide method – also bone-in. Both are excellent. Sous vide produces a more consistent and juicy result. No matter how you cook your pork chops, I do recommend bone-in, 1-inch thick, and finished with pan-searing. Here I cooked a half recipe (the full recipe is listed at the end of the post) because it was just the two of us for dinner, and I did my pork chops sous vide with a pan-seared finish.
pork chops, pepper, cream, white wine, garlic, parsley, butter, salt, chanterelles
season with salt and pepper on both sides
vacuum seal (or seal in ziplocs, pushing as much air out as possible)
sous vide bath for 1 hour at 140°f
Before pan-searing the pork chops, prep the rest of the ingredients. Gently clean your chanterelles with a brush and a damp paper towel. If you don’t own a fancy “mushroom” brush, don’t panic. Those things are a waste of money. A standard pastry brush with bristles works great. For stubborn debris caught in the ridges (they look like gills, but they’re really ridges), I use a Giottos Rocket, which is actually a dust removal puffer for my photography equipment. It comes in quite handy for camera equipment, food photography, product photography, crafts, and mushroom cleaning! And if all else fails, the tip of my sharp paring knife usually gets any tough-to-remove speck.
sous vide chops, chopped parsley, minced garlic, sliced chanterelles, and everything else
pan-sear the pork chops in a non non-stick pan
Once the pork chops are done, set them on a plate while you sauté the chanterelles in the same pan with some butter and garlic. Remove the mushrooms from the pan. What you will have on the bottom of your pan is that precious golden brown stuff, called fond, that is a pain to wash off. The good news is that you won’t be washing it off because fond is full of flavor and will be deglazed when you add the wine to the hot pan. That’s why I prefer to use stainless steel instead of non-stick, because the fond tastes amazing and makes great pan sauce. Enameled cookware works and I think cast iron should be fine as long as it is well-seasoned. Feel free to pour any juices that collect from the resting pork chops into the pan as well. Let the wine boil or simmer and use a spatula or whisk to scrub the fond off into the liquid. Reduce the wine to half its original volume, then add the cream and lower the burner to medium. Stir the chanterelles and parsley in last and simmer until the sauce just begins to thicken. Serve the sauce over the pork chops.
sauté the chanterelles in the same pan
deglaze with some wine
reduce the wine and add cream
stir in the chanterelles and parsley
The chanterelle aroma strikes me as mostly floral, a little earthy, and a tiny bit fruity. People say they smell like apricots, but I think they’re mistaking the visual cue for a smell. If you close your eyes, you may find they smell more like lightly perfumed crayons or candles. We found the pairing of this chanterelle sauce with the pork chops to be magical. The sauce is also delightful on mashed potatoes or possibly on bread or spooned straight into your mouth. If you find yourself gathering chanterelles in the wild, at the market, in the store, from a friend – consider this dish. Totally worth dipping into the chanterelle stash.
spoon sauce over pork chop
getting my autumn vibes on
Pork Chops with Chanterelle Wine and Cream Sauce
4 1-inch thick bone-in pork loin chops
freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsps unsalted butter
1 lb. chanterelles, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tbsps fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, chopped
Note: I prefer to sous vide my pork chops and finish them in a pan-sear. If you prefer to pan-sear your pork chops the traditional way, here is the method I use: http://userealbutter.com/2016/04/18/pan-seared-pork-chops-recipe/. Either way, you should pan-sear your pork chops to incorporate the flavorful fond left in the pan into your chanterelle sauce.
If cooking the pork chops using sous vide method: Set your sous vide bath to your desired temperature. I use 140°F for a medium-rare doneness. You can refer to this recipe for different temperatures and results. Pat dry the pork chops. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. Vacuum seal each pork chop or place each in a ziploc and squeeze all of the air out before sealing using the displacement method (lower the bag with the pork chop into the water bath until all of the air is squeezed out without submerging the bag opening underwater, and seal the bag shut). Secure each chop in the sous vide bath and cook 1-4 hours (I cook for 1 hour). Remove the bags from the bath and remove each pork chop from their bag. Pat the chops dry, re-season with salt and pepper as needed.
If cooking with traditional pan-sear: Season both sides of each pork chop with salt. Set the chops on a rack over a dish (something to catch any drips) and refrigerate uncovered for 45 minutes or up to 3 days. Pat the pork chops dry and make two to three scores, about 1 inch apart, across the fatty outer edge of each pork chop. Cut through the fat and membrane to the meat – this helps to prevent buckling during cooking. Season the pork chops with pepper.
Pan-sear the chops (both methods): Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan (preferably NOT non-stick) over medium-high heat. When the butter begins to bubble, set the pork chops in the pan in a single layer. Cook for a minute or until the pork chops easily release from the pan (if they stick, they’re not done, yet) and are browned. Flip the chops and sear the other side, about 1-2 minutes until they release easily and are browned. If cooking from raw, make sure the internal temperature reads 145°-160°F. Remove to a plate to rest.
Make the chanterelle sauce: Melt two more tablespoons of butter in the pan over medium-high heat. When the butter begins to bubble, add the chanterelles and sauté until they are lightly browned and cooked through. Add the minced garlic and sauté for another minute. Remove to a plate or bowl. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the wine and any excess juice the pork chops have released while resting. Scrape the fond (flavorful browned bits) from the bottom of the pan and incorporate into the liquid. When the wine has reduced by half, stir in the cream and turn the heat down to medium flame. Allow the cream to simmer and thicken slightly. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked mushrooms and the chopped parsley. Serve over the pork chops. Serves 4.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
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