Even when I was a young grasshopper and had the metabolism of a hummingbird I never really liked fatty foods. Except fried chicken and bacon cuz um, those are simply irresistible. But lots of cheese, cream, or butter? I just don’t quite get it. That being said, I also don’t believe in “no-fat” “no-salt” “no-XX” deprivation diets either. Just as you need vitamins and proteins to live, you also need minerals like sodium and even fat. Most of us in the Western hemisphere probably get more than our fair share if we eat out or partake of pre-prepared foods a lot but cooking with no fat or no salt is for lack of a better word, unpalatable. You need a little of everything for sustenance and you need a little of everything for flavor too. There’s a use for everything and everything in moderation, and truthfully if your diet is too restricting it’s almost guaranteed to fail. Why? Part of the reason why diets like Atkins work is not just the concept that protein and fat send “I’m full” satiation signals to your brain to tell you to stop eating but also because as patients, friends, and even family have told me over and over again, it sucks the joy out of eating. Which makes sense cuz while I love the smoky, crispety, salty taste of bacon, if I was limited to it and other similar foods (let’s be honest, there’s more variety in the carby, starchy world than the fatty, high protein one) for all my meals, the monotony would lose its appeal pretty quickly.
When I was in residency I gained 15-20 lbs which you may not think is much but that’s almost 20% of my body weight (hey, I’m small and short). I averaged 5 hours of sleep sometimes working 110 hours a week (this was before the kinder, gentler hourly restrictions) so I barely had time to eat much less exercise. While I was tired from lack of sleep, I also had no stamina. As I dusted off my rowing machine (I started out at only 10 minutes at a time at first) and actually ate lunch instead of shuffling down the hallways chomping on Cheetos and slurping soda, I felt better and could run stairs to get to codes even though I got less sleep in a month than most people did in a couple weeks. So there you go, no extreme fava bean only diets or Iron Man triathlons, just a little change in diet (cutting down my intake by 10% and ramping it up every couple weeks), exercise (cardio for 20 minutes–that’s less time than most people take to eat a meal or watch a TV show, ideally working up to at least 3X a week for a healthy heart), and lifestyle (eating healthier foods, walking/biking every so often instead of driving, parking at the far end of the lot, taking the stairs instead of the elevator,….). It’s not dramatic, but slow and steady change gives you long-term results without burning you out after a couple weeks and we all know happiness makes you irresistible.
This recipe came as a request from one of the hubster’s co-workers who has been looking forward to chanterelle season. Most of the preparations I found were very decadent and cream-based likely because at $25-30/lb they’re a delicacy and if you’re going to splurge on ingredients you might as well splurge on calories? I have nothing against calories per se, but more calories doesn’t necessarily translate into more taste and the more junk I have in my trunk, the slower I pedal uphill 😀 So I’ve substituted cooked down broth and a soupçon of low-fat sour cream for heavy cream (hehe) and jettisoned most of the butter. I’ve also pulled out my secret ingredient, lemon zest. Lemon zest adds a bright and slightly astringent flavor that really cuts through some of the richness of the sauce while complimenting the natural almost fruity sweetness of the chanterelles. The fresh parsley adds a green note that helps to stimulate those richly coated taste buds. And finally, the creminis impart an earthy depth and meaty texture. My version is technically “reduced fat” according to the FDA as it contains at least 25% less fat than the standard dish, in order for it to be low-fat you have to have 3 g or less of total fat content. Mine has 13.2 g of fat total, 5.3 g of which are from saturated fats (lethally delicious butter!) versus 35.4 g of total fat composed of 18.5 g saturated fat so this version contains only 37% of the usual fat content for this type of dish for a total of 480 calories per serving compared to 408 calories in a serving that is only 2/3 the size. And just cuz it’s amusing the recipe nutritional analysis website I used graded the recipes too, I was chagrined to see I got a B- until I saw the D- the reference recipe got slapped with (nyah nyah nyah-boo-boo!). So while it’s got significantly less fat, this won’t be a monthly addition to our diet besides the relatively hefty price tag, but a couple times a year will be okay with my wallet and arteries 🙂
1) What if I don’t have pappardelle? You can make pappardelle by cutting fresh lasagne sheets lengthwise into 3/4 to 1-inch wide strips. I like to stack all the sheets and then loosely roll them along the longest edge (this way you’ll be making fewer cuts along the short edge) and cut them into my desired width. Not only does this save time but you’re also cutting along a shorter length, since the full length is coiled up, so you don’t have to make a wobbly 12+ inch cut. You can also substitute most pasta shapes with this sauce, especially the scoopy ones like orchiette and farfalle.
2) Lady, do you know how much chanterelles cost?? Um, yup, they’re spendy which is why I mixed in some baby portobellos. If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere damp and cool, like the Pacific NW, you can also find these and the very delectable morel mushrooms when you go hiking. You could also use shiitake, king oyster (also called king trumpet mushrooms), or white mushrooms too. The shiitake (even dried) have a very pronounced earthy and almost nutty flavor. The king oyster mushrooms have a nice meaty texture and while they’re supposed to have a subtle oyster flavor apparently it’s too subtle for me to taste. The white ‘shrooms won’t have much inherent flavor but they will soak up the flavors of your sauce and have a nice chewy texture.
3) What about using dried mushrooms? I can definitely see the appeal as they’re more readily available and cheaper than fresh but they’re lacking in the main reasons we like mushrooms so much, flavor and texture. Chanterelles really lose their flavor when dried (unlike shiitake) and most ‘shrooms take on a fibrous, woody texture that doesn’t improve much with rehydration. Normally I would say, why not try it but since this dish is so simple, relying on a few key ingredients for taste and consistency, I’d see skip this recipe and save your dried mushrooms for when they’re a supporting character and not the main ingredient.
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 large shallot, in 1/4-inch rings
3/4 large shallot, minced
2 tsp (2 cloves) crushed garlic
16 oz (1 lb) wild mushrooms (I used 8 oz chanterelle, 8 oz baby portobello–also called cremini)
1/4 c dry vermouth (you can also substitute dry white wine)
1 c low-salt vegetable or chicken stock (I used Better Than Bouillon Mushroom Base cuz, um mushrooms and mushrooms :))
2 tbsp butter
1/2 + 1 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon zest
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice (~juice from 1/2 of a large lemon)
2 tbsp low-fat sour cream
1 tbsp fresh (1 tsp dried) parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lb pappardelle
Cut off stems from cremini mushrooms and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Trim off any woody chanterelle stems (I know, all that lovely mushroom! But a woody uncooked stem won’t taste any better sautéed.) and slice lengthwise into 1-inch slices if they’re large (like mine) or whole if they’re not much thicker than 1-inch. Brush off any pieces of dirt from mushrooms and rinse in cold water. Lightly run your fingers over the gills on the underside of the chanterelle cap as dirt and grit tend to accumulate there. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan or large skillet with a 3-inch lip heat olive oil over med-lo heat till aromatic but not smoking. Fry shallot rings till golden ~1 minute and remove with a slotted spoon, leaving oil in pan. Blot excess oil from shallots with a paper towel and set aside. Increase heat to medium and add minced shallots and garlic to pan and sauté till tender and translucent ~3-4 minutes. Deglaze with vermouth or wine and simmer till volume reduced by half ~2 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté till they become tender and release their juices ~4-5 minutes then add broth and simmer till reduced by 1/2 ~5-10 minutes. Stir in butter, 1/2 tsp salt, zest, lemon juice, sour cream, and parsley and turn off heat.
While the mushrooms are cooking, boil water in a large (at least 5 quart) pot with the remaining 1 tsp salt. Set a timer for 1 minute less than the recommended cooking time on the package and cook pasta. Scoop out ~1 c pasta water and drain pasta. Add half of pasta to mushroom pan and mix then add remaining pasta and combine. Simmer pasta in sauce for 1 minute to season with sauce. If the consistency is too thick (this is all preference, I tend to like drier pastas so didn’t add any pasta water to mine), add 1/4 c pasta water, mix, and adjust as needed. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings.