The past week has been very mushroomy in my world. It started with creamy orecchiette pasta with shiitake mushrooms and peas (look for that a little later this week!) and ended with an absurd amount of morel mushrooms served with salmon one night and in a chicken fricassée the next.
I only say absurd because if one were to buy as many morels as I’ve eaten in the past few days, they’d probably have to take out a second mortgage or sell a vital organ. I priced them at the grocery store and they were $15.99 for 4 shrively mushrooms. Yikes. Thankfully, I’m lucky enough to have (future) in-laws that live on several wooded acres that are ripe with morel mushrooms most springs and a fiancé that loves hunting ’em down. This year, Matt wound up with enough for us to have 2 very mushroom heavy dinners plus a bag to share with my parents. Here’ s a taste of what we came up with and, perhaps, a little cooking inspiration, should you also come into a heap of morels this spring.
The first morel dinner was all Matt. Now, you’ve probably heard me talk about Matt before, but if not, let me introduce you. Matt is my fiancé (don’t get weirded out if I still refer to him as my boyfriend–old habits die hard) and the person that helps me eat all the food you see around here. You should also know that Matt’s really good in the kitchen. If he’s cooking, I can expect a man-sized portion of fish or meat, accompanied by lots of potatoes and veggies, and a buttery sauce. This dinner was no exception: salmon over roasted baby potatoes and sautéed asparagus with leeks, topped with a morel and brandy cream.
When my turn came around to cook with the morels, I made a simple dish of chicken, simmered with a few specials touches, namely, lots of mushrooms and more butter and cream than I normally cook with. What can I say? Special ingredients call for special treatment.
It’s been a delicious couple of days, rich with wild mushrooms. Have you found any morels where you live? What’s your favorite thing to do with them? I’d love to hear–leave me a note.
- ½# Creamer Potatoes, halved
- 1# Salmon
- 1 small Shallot, diced
- about ½# Morel Mushrooms, halved
- 2 Tbsp. Brandy
- ¼ c. Heavy Cream
- 1 large Leek, white and pale green parts, sliced
- 1 bunch Asparagus, tough ends removed
- about 1 Tbsp. Fresh Tarragon, chopped
- Olive Oil
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Heat about ½ Tbsp. each butter and olive oil in an oven-proof skillet. Place the potatoes in the pan, cut-side down. Transfer to oven and roast until cooked through and the cut-sides of the potatoes are golden and crisp.
- When the potatoes are close to being finished, place the salmon in a baking dish and rub with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake, about 12 minutes if it is left in one fillet, slightly less if it is already cut into personal-sized portions.
- Meanwhile, melt about a ½ Tbsp. butter in a sauté pan over high heat. Sauté the shallot and mushrooms until the most of the liquid from the mushrooms has cooked off and the mushrooms have started to brown. Add the brandy and allow most of it to simmer off. Add the cream and simmer until it thickens slightly. Remove from heat and stir in about 1 Tbsp. butter. Season, as needed, with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, sauté the sliced leeks asparagus in olive oil or butter or a combination of the 2, until the asparagus is just tender. Season with salt, pepper, and tarragon.
- Cut the salmon into individual portions (we each had about an 8 oz piece which was bordering on too much-1 # could easily serve 3). Divide the roasted potatoes and sautéed vegetables between warm plates. Place the salmon on top of the asparagus and spoon the mushroom sauce over the top.
- 4 Chicken Thighs
- 1 Shallot, diced
- 2 Carrots, sliced
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- as many Morel Mushrooms as you can get your hands on, halved (*see notes)
- ¼ c, Dry White Wine
- ¾ c. Chicken Stock (homemade or low-sodium)
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves
- 1 Dried Bay Leaf
- ¼ c. Heavy Cream
- 4 large Sorrel Leaves (**see notes)
- Olive Oil
- Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat about 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan, skin-side down, until the skin is crisp and golden, 5-8 minutes. Flip the chicken and brown on the other side for about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a rimmed plate. Drain most of the fat from the pan.
- Heat about 1 Tbsp. butter in the same pan. Add the shallot and carrot, lightly season with salt, and sauté until the shallot begins to soften, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms release most of their moisture and start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and boil until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil. Nestle the chicken back into the pan, skin-side up, along with the thyme and bay leaf and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and very tender, about 40 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until slightly thickened, about another 5 minutes.
- Taste the sauce. Season as necessary with salt and pepper. Transfer to warm plates or a serving platter and scatter torn sorrel leaves over the top.