Normally I conceive of a dish for dinner while shopping for groceries and not before, I like to be inspired by what is fresh, special, or even economical. On this particular day I stumbled across some rare early summer time jewels not normally available in your every day produce section, fresh morels!
My first inclination for these brainy shaped wild mushrooms was to saute them up with fresh thyme, shallot, white wine, and finished into a nice cream sauce. Normally morels and cream are a wicked combination, but dried morels are really better for that type of sauce due to their concentrated flavour. Also – you can pick up dried morels any time of the year, so I wanted to do something that showcased the freshness of these rare beauties.
What I decided to do was based on a mushroom bruschetta, which is one of my favourite things to make and serve to friends in my kitchen. The concept is simple, fresh wild mushrooms tossed onto a hot and dry cast iron pan (it brings out the woodiness and beautiful umami flavour of the mushrooms); then quickly sauteed in a piping hot pan with a glug of oil and some shallot or garlic, fresh herbs, scallions, and julienned chili; then finished with a splash of whatever alcohol you may have available, sherry and white wine are my favourites. Of course, once the alcohol is reduced to a nappe consistency it’s taken off the heat and finished with a generous knob of butter. Keys throughout the process are to maintain a high temperature, and not to overcrowd the pan. Once autumn rolls around again, I will do up a post about a version I’ve made with fresh chanterelles over a fire pit during a surf trip in Tofino.
The brushetta in this dish consists of fresh morels, thinly sliced garlic scapes, roasted shallot, dry vermouth, and butter. Served with a simple pan roasted chicken breast and sauteed potatoes (which I take very seriously, and will warrant a post of their own in the future).
Official recipe to follow, but for now enjoy the food porn!
1 Chicken breast, boneless and skin on.
1/4 cup of butter
1 large shallot, halved
1 Sprig fresh rosemary, intact
Handful of fresh morels, about 6-8 per chicken breast, halved
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup of fresh garlic scapes, thinly sliced
1/8 cup dry vermouth, white wine, or sherry
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
For the chicken:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Put nonstick oven-proof frying pan on medium-high heat and toss in a glug of olive oil.
2. Liberally season the chicken with the coarse pepper and salt, place (not toss) in the pan. Cook for about 5-6 minutes and flip once a nice golden brown colour has developed. Immediately add 1 tbsp of butter, as well as one of the shallot halves and the rosemary. Baste the chicken in the beautiful shallot-rosemary-butter sauce a few times, then toss the whole pan in the oven until the chicken is cooked through.
3. While the chicken is cooking, put another saute pan on high heat. Toss on the fresh morel mushrooms and dry saute until golden brown. You should be getting a beautiful nutty aroma at this point off the mushrooms. Set the mushrooms aside once browned and reduce heat to medium-high.
4. Add a glug of olive oil to the pan, then add the garlic scapes. Julienne the other shallot half, then add to the garlic scapes. Toss this around a few times with the oil so that good colour begins to form.
5. Toss the morels back in the pan with the garlic scapes and shallot, turn the heat to high. Wait about 30 seconds, then splash in the vermouth. We’re aiming for the vermouth to reduce to the nappe consistency in about 15 seconds, so there needs to be enough heat in the pan to achieve this without burning the mixture. Take the pan off the heat, and add 1 tbsp of the butter, season to taste and toss the mixture. Serve immediately over the chicken.