chinkapins one day. Their sweet flesh would be beautiful with the kale. But there aren't any Christmas songs about chinkapins that I'm aware of...
(Chanterelle mushrooms, kale, shallot, parsnip, chestnuts)
Parsnips are lovely. If you haven't tried them, they're a little like a carrot. When they're cooked, they're like a cross between a carrot and a potato. Fried in a pan, they develop a delicious caramelized crust around the edges and it's just heaven.
I used a combination of chanterelle and yellowfoot mushrooms both of which are at the very end of their season here.
These are yellowfoot. Yellowfoots? Yellowfeet...? Whatever they are in plural form, my forager, David, said that they are related to chanterelles. They both like living under evergreen trees. You can really tell when you eat a raw chanterelle. They're hot and peppery and taste like a pine tree. Cooked, they mellow out into chewy, earthy bliss. The yellowfoot have a slight anise flavor raw. They are smaller, so they cook up much more quickly than the chanterelles. Very soft, and very similar to a button mushroom in flavor except for the faint taste of anise. Unlike the chanterelles, I could happily eat these raw.
Pan Fried Parsnips
6 chestnuts shelled and sliced
2 large parsnips
6 oz chanterelle and/or yellowfoot mushrooms
1 large shallot
1 bunch of kale
salt and pepper
Shell out your chestnuts and peel off as much of the papery inner layer as you can. Slice thinly and cook over medium low heat for 3-5 minutes or until the skin begins to flake off. Remove from pan and remove as much paper as you can.
While the chestnuts are cooking, you'll have time to slice the parsnips to about 1/8-1/4 inch thickness. Once the chestnuts are done, put about a tablespoon of olive oil in the warm pan and add the parsnips. Fry on medium-high heat until they soften and begin to caramelize, around 10 minutes for thinner slices.
While the parsnips are cooking, you can peel and slice your shallot and roughly chop the mushrooms. When parsnips are softened, add mushrooms and shallots. Cook until the mushrooms and shallots begin to brown (about 10 minutes).
Remove the well cooked parsnips, mushrooms and shallots to a side plate. If there are any parsnips that aren't thoroughly cooked, leave them in the pan. Deglaze with a little water or maybe some white wine. (I didn't have any on hand, but I was wishing I did...) Add kale and steam in the deglazing liquid for a few minutes. If you like (and I like) you can let the fluid cook away and brown the kale a little.
Stir the parsnips, shallots, and mushrooms back into the kale, salt and pepper to taste, and serve topped with chestnuts.
The first time I made this, I only made about half. Mr. Crackers and I were both really disappointed there wasn't more! Serve this with rice if you like, I think tonight I'm going to try it with wild rice. Other things you might try in this are apple, garlic and fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary.
PS, Do you like that platter? It's an early Christmas present. I'm in love...