More, More, More Morels, Please!
Pasta with Morel Cream Sauce
Fresh morels generally come out in early Spring, generally mid-March to early April, but morel mushroom season varies across the United States depending on the region in which you are located, typically it arrives in the early spring months with the morels starting to appear in the southern US before they begin their trek to the north.
As I am not a forager of mushrooms of any sort (I am not knowledgeable enough about them) I live in the NJ/PA/NY area and often I get my morels from the Pacific Northwest via online order from D'Artagnan's. Morels are highly perishable, so they must be keep refrigerated at all times. Once my morels are cleaned, I keep them in a colander lined with some paper towel and in the fridge as shown below.
You want plenty of air circulation and kept as shown, they will keep for a week to 10 days. Morels can also be frozen in a single layer and then put into plastic bags or vacuum sealed and stored frozen until use. No need to thaw, use them right from the freezer.
Morels MUST be cleaned and they MUST be cooked before eating.
Cleaning morels takes a little patience because of their honeycomb texture. Trim the end of the stem off and brush lightly if you notice any grit. I always give a quick rinse in cold water followed by immediate drying on a tea towel.
Larger morels should be cut in half lengthwise to clean out the center of the stem. Leave smaller morels whole. Try to have uniform sized morels in the pan, so that the mushrooms cook evenly.
I cannot stress enough - do not eat morels raw. Morels are complemented best by butter and cream, so sauté briefly in butter then add a splash of white wine and finish with a quick simmer in heavy cream. Morels are wonderful with chicken, veal or pork.
Raw morels contains a toxin called hemolysin that causes gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. This toxin is neutralized fairly quickly under the effect of heat. You must cook the mushrooms 10 to 15 minutes to remove it.
EASY MOREL CREAM SAUCE (For Beef, Pork, Chicken or Pasta ) 1 to 1.5 cups morels
1-2 shallots, minced
1 cup of heavy cream
1/4 cup of butter
3 cups of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of flour
1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme (optional)
salt and pepper to taste sliced scallion, parsley and/or cheese to garnish (optional)
NOTE: peas and/or asparagus, are also good added to this dish
1. Put the morels in a small saucepan with the chicken stock and cook over medium for about 10 minutes. Strain the morels and set the chicken stock aside in a cup.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Add shallots. Cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes or until shallots are tender.
3. Sprinkle flour over shallots; stir to combine. Slowly add reserved 1 cup broth, stirring until smooth.
4. Reduce to low heat. Cook, uncovered, for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in thyme.
5. Slowly whisk in the whipping cream. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat for 7 minutes more or until the mixture thickens.
6. Stir in reserved morels and simmer on low for about 5-6 minutes
7. Serve sauce with beef (filet or steak), pork, chicken or over pasta.