Alice Water’s once said, expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise. We had just gotten back from running an errand to find a pile of fresh morels on our kitchen table. The locals had been combing the woods around the farm for weeks to no avail, yet here they were begging for a recipe. We found out the our farm hand Zac had found them during his lunch hour and though he is good at finding them, he doesn’t like to eat them. We couldn’t be happier that we were the recipients of his generosity. He said they will be coming now for about two weeks if the conditions stay favorable such as moisture and warmth. We have had the moisture this spring, but certainly not the warmth. Today it reached 74 degrees which apparently was just warm enough.
Most people are very secretive about the places where morels are found. They want to return each year without spending hours and hours looking for them. However always be sure not to pick all of them completely. It’s important to leave a few mushrooms that will release future spores for next year. Without doing this your potential cache will quickly dry up. There are many suggestions for novice hunters that include looking in old apple orchards, or where trilliums grow, along steep hillsides or old rail road right of ways. Where ever you look, it is always thrilling to find them. Tomorrow Zac has offered to take me morel hunting. He said, “For someone who goes bonkers for them, I can’t believe you’ve never gone hunting for them! Be sure to put your morel-eyes on.”
Grilled Chicken with Morel Cream Sauce:
- 1 1/2 cups fresh morel caps
- 1 Tbsp each of sweet butter & olive oil
- 1 Tbsp shallots, finely minced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 4 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed
- 4 chicken breasts, salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- Soak fresh morels in salted water for about 30 minutes to remove grit and potential insects. Rinse and remove stems (save for another use) reserve.
- Heat gas grill to 400 degrees then adjust burners to medium on outside burners and low on middle burner to maintain that temperature. Cook 10 minutes per side.
- In medium non-stick skillet melt sweet butter with olive oil. Add garlic and shallots, saute for about 4 minutes on medium heat. Add morel caps, continue sauteing for about 4 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add sherry continue to cook until liquid is reduced in half.
- Add heavy cream, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, them reduce heat to medium and stir until thickened.
- Saute spinach in large skillet with only the water that clings to the leaves after washing. Saute until just wilted but still bright green (do not over cook).
- Place some spinach in a shallow bowl, top with grilled chicken breast. Spoon sauce over chicken. Top with fresh parsley.
Alternately, here is an additional option: grill two chicken breasts ahead of time, then slice in bite size pieces. Julienne the fresh spinach. Cook linguine to package directions or use fresh. Cut up one bunch of fresh asparagus in 1 inch pieces. Double sauce recipe. Add asparagus to sauce along with chicken. Drain pasta, top with julienned spinach, pour sauce over pasta and toss. This will easily serve 4-6.
Laughter is brightest in the place where the food is. ——–Irish Proverb