Creamy Braised Chanterelles and Potatoes
The simplicity of this dish may make it sound dull, but its flavors are stunningly earthy, rich and deep. It makes a luxurious fall or winter vegetarian main course. The chef who wrote the recipe for this Russian classic, Bonnie Frumkin Morales, says she knows it is tempting to add garnishes like snipped chives or seasonings like black pepper. But the pure flavor of the mushrooms and cream, which saturates the potatoes, is best appreciated alone. You'll need to buy crème fraîche or smetana (not regular sour cream) and heavy cream that hasn't been ultrapasteurized to ensure the sauce stays stable without separating and becoming greasy.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1to 1 1/2 pounds fresh chanterelle or shiitake mushrooms
- 1tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 ½cups heavy cream (not ultrapasteurized)
- 1 ½cups crème fraîche or smetana (Russian sour cream)
- 1tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2pounds Yukon Gold or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Crusty bread, for serving (optional)
Step 1Clean the mushrooms: Fill the sink or a large bowl with cold water. Lay out some clean kitchen towels. Working with a few at a time, dunk the mushrooms in the water and gently swish to remove any dirt or debris. Shake off excess water and transfer to the towels to dry until excess water has been absorbed. Use your hands to tear any very large mushrooms into halves or quarters.
Step 2In a medium-size heavy pot with a lid, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally. The mushrooms will first give off a lot of liquid and then it will begin to evaporate. Raise the heat as needed to keep the liquid at a fast boil.
Step 3In a bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, sour cream and salt. When the liquid in the pot has mostly evaporated, stir in the cream mixture and bring to a simmer. Stir in the potatoes and return to a simmer. Partly cover the pot, and let simmer gently for 1 hour. Check and adjust the heat occasionally to make sure the mixture is simmering, not boiling.
Step 4After 1 hour, test the potatoes. If they are still firm, keep simmering until they are just cooked through.
Step 5When the potatoes are just cooked through, uncover the pot and raise the heat to a lively simmer. Cook until the braising liquid reduces and begins to caramelize, 10 to 20 minutes. It will turn golden brown and thick, like a cream sauce. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Toward the end, stir often to prevent the liquid at the bottom of the pot from scorching.
Step 6Serve hot, mopping up the sauce with crusty bread, if desired.