Forager Langdon Cook draws his cooking inspiration from the wild edibles he gathers, so he pays careful daily attention to local weather and happenings. When first asked to share a recipe, Cook, fresh from his first geoduck-digging expedition ("fun, exhausting, dirty"), offered kung pao geoduck with wild chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms. But a few days later, he thought better of it. Instead, he shared his recipe for creamy chanterelle pasta because, as he explained, "Chanterelles are finally popping with the recent rain" and "geoduck can't be easily foraged now that the daylight low-low tides are done." (Fear not, geoduck lovers, you can find the kung pao recipe on his blog, Fat of the Land.)
Cook's first book, Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st-Century Forager, arrives in bookstores this week. He'll be on KUOW's Weekday tomorrow morning, talking about foraging from 9 to 10 a.m. On September 14, Cooks & Books will host a Fat of the Land dinner at Lark. The dinner, cooked by Chef John Sundstrom, will feature items gathered by Sundstrom and Cook on a joint foraging adventure. Reservations are available through the Cooks & Books website.
Creamy Chanterelle Pasta
Says Cook: This is a simple, hearty recipe that is perfect comfort after a day in the woods hunting mushrooms. I adapted it from one in Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. You can substitute half-and-half for the cream, and use whatever amount you want. I like the final dish to be rich and creamy, so I usually serve a simple green salad and a couple bottles of red wine to go with it.
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
4 ounces thick, quality bacon (4 slices), diced
1 to 2 shallots, finely chopped
1 pound shaped pasta, such as bow-ties
1 pound fresh chanterelles, roughly chopped
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1 pint heavy cream (or less)
4 ounces garden peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, with more for table
Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat and add the diced bacon. Do not drain the fat. As bacon begins to crisp, add shallots and cook until tender. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat, and add pasta.
Add chanterelles to the skillet and cook several minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have released their water. Season with salt and pepper. While the chanterelles are cooking down, put the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and half the cream in a large glass or ceramic mixing bowl. Place the bowl in the warm oven.
Slowly add the remaining cream to the skillet and simmer, continuing to stir occasionally while pasta cooks. When pasta is nearly done, add peas to the chanterelle sauce. Remove pasta from heat, drain, and add to warm mixing bowl. Mix the sauce and cream together, and add the grated Parmesan. Serve immediately.