Monday, November 9, 2009
Chicken with Morels - Blue Monday
At $28 an ounce, a find like this is worthy of a king's ransom. Morels grow in duff on the forest floor under conifers in some areas of the Pacific Northwest. They are free for the picking on unrestricted property.
Seen through a magnifier or camera lens, the morel looks like a sponge or an aquatic plant. When dried it looks like a small clump of clay with pores.
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I must begin with a disclaimer. This entree is not a standard meal in our home. It comes in at the very high end of what I'm willing to pay for an ordinary family meal. I had seen this Ina Garten recipe floating through cyberspace for several years and this seemed like a great time to try it. I had a lug of free, fresh morels and homemade creme fraiche sitting in the refrigerator. I even had an old bottle of Madeira on a shelf in the pantry. I had no excuse not to make it. The recipe is quite simple and the chicken, while expensive to prepare, sounded delightful. I did make a few changes to the recipe. I, of course, used fresh morels because that's what I had on hand. The dried morels would have produced the same result as the fresh, though I must admit I was surprised at the instruction to discard the water in which the mushrooms soaked. I usually strain that liquid through a coffee filter and freeze it to be used later to enrich soup or stews. It really would be a shame to waste it. I also chose not to clarify the butter. Clarified butter is simply a butter from which milk solids have been removed. I only use it in Indian cooking. The advantage to clarified butter is that it has a higher smoke point and can handle higher temperatures than butter with milk solids. Years ago, I learned that adding oil to butter increases its smoke point and that's what I've done ever since. It's one less step to deal with and one less pot to wash. That works for me! If you don't have shallots, substitute an equal quantity of green onions and you'll be fine. This is a very nice recipe. It is, however, very rich and strongly flavored, so you'll have to be careful about what you serve with it. I served it with steamed rice and snow peas. This would, of course make a fantastic company meal. Here's Ina Garten's recipe.
Chicken with Morels...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite
1-oz. dried morels, soaked for 30 minutes in 3 cups very hot water
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
1⁄4 cup clarified butter or 3 tablespoons butter + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1⁄3 cup chopped shallots (2 large)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 cup Madeira wine
1 cup (8-oz.) creme fraiche
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Carefully lift morels out of water in order to keep grit in soaking liquid. Rinse a few times to assure grit is gone. Strain liquid and save for another use. Dry the morels with paper towels. Set aside.
3) Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour and shake off excess. Heat half of butter or butter/oil mixture in a large saute pan. Cook chicken breasts in two batches over medium-low heat until browned on both sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to an ovenproof casserole.
4) Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter or butter/oil combination to pan. Add shallots, morels and garlic. Saute over medium heat for 2 minutes, tossing and stirring constantly. Pour Madeira into pan and reduce liquid by half over high heat, about 2 to 4 minutes. Add creme fraiche, cream, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3⁄4 teaspoon pepper. Boil until mixture starts to thicken, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour sauce over chicken and bake for 12 minutes, or until chicken is heated through. To make ahead, refrigerate chicken and sauce in the casserole and reheat slowly on top of stove. Yield: 6 servings.
This post is being linked to:
Smiling Sally - Blue Monday
If you like this recipe you also might enjoy these:
Jersey Girl Cooks - Veal Marsala
Southern Grace Gourmet - Chicken Piccata
One Perfect Bite - Braised Chicken with Riesling