10 Ways Tuesdays: Morels

Now that you and the morel have been introduced, it’s time to get to know one another. Out in the world you will find many recipes for fresh morels, which I think is funny because most of us regular people do not have access to fresh morels. We do have access to dried morels, though.  I believe dried morels can be used in any recipe calling for fresh, you just have to get the dried mushroom re-hydrated and ready to rock and roll.

Follow the instructions on the package for re-hydrating dried morels. This means pouring a bit of hot water from the kettle over the mushrooms and allowing them to sit and plump up for a few minutes. Both the mushrooms and their soaking liquid can be added to a dish for flavor – just strain the liquid of any grit first. Morels are very delicate. Be gentle with them, and use them to finish a dish by raising the level of presentation with their unique texture and smoky, nutty flavor.



I’ve come up with 10 Ways to use dried morels in your spring pantry:

 

1. Omelette

Incorporate morels into an omelet for a budget friendly and quick meal. If you don’t want to slave over supper then it’s easy to whip up an omelet and serve it alongside a crisp salad and glass of wine. Dinner is served!

2. Pasta

Morels add elegance to a humble plate of pasta. In her pantry cookbook, A Twist of the Wrist, Nancy Silverton shares a recipe for “Egg Papardelle with Asparagus, Dried Morel Mushrooms, and Fresh Goat Cheese.” Sounds like spring to me.

3. Risotto

Morels in a rich, creamy risotto sounds lovely! The soaking liquid can be used in combination with stock to cook the rice. Maybe add some peas too…

4. Soup

Garnish soup with morels like Patricia Wells in her book, Vegetable Harvest. Patricia garnishes her “Fresh White Bean Soup” with morels stewed in cream- decadent!

5. Rice pilaf

Add dried morels, hazel nuts, and tarragon to wild rice pilaf for a sophisticated variety of flavor and texture. Green herbs like chives or tarragon add spring flavors. Wouldn’t that be a nice lunch?

6. Stew

Morels surely enjoy a bath in the stew pot. Their earthy, nutty flavor would be nice with spring lamb or veal. Serve the stew over baby boiled potatoes or lentils.

7. Sauce

Use morels in a sauce to be poured over meat, especially chicken like Nigella Lawson does in How to Eat. In her recipe for “Chicken with Morels”, the combination of Madeira and morels is much more interesting than your average cream of mushroom sauce.

8. Toasted Bread

Warm dried morels in cream and serve over toasted bread- you’ve turned toast and mushrooms into a gourmet meal. A nutty, melted cheese like gruyère or raclette would be absolute luxury.

9. Fish steamed en papillote

Salmon or white fish such as tilapia are nice cooked in parchment with olive oil, white wine, herbs and delicate vegetables. Why not throw in a couple of morels and their broth for flavor and presentation?

10. Terrine

The beautiful shape of a morel would be perfect for a terrine. Stéphane Reynaud uses dried morels for “Red Mullet Terrine” in his book Terrine.



Have you cooked with morels before? I would love to know your favorite ways of preparing these mushrooms.

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Note: The morel jus is liquid gold- it carries most of the flavor from the dried morels. I always add the morel jus to the dish I’m cooking for its valuable flavor (soups, sauces, risotto, etc). When you want to add morels to a dish that cannot take this extra liquid (such as an omelette), here is what to do:

Remove the morels from their soaking liquid as usual.  Sauté the morels in butter and season them with salt and pepper. Drain the morel soaking liquid of grit and add it into the pan with the mushrooms.  Continue to cook the morels until the liquid is completely reabsorbed and then add the morels to your chosen dish.

 

 

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