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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

Ingredients:
1-oz. dried morels, soaked for 30 minutes in 3 cups very hot water
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
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

Directions:
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

54 comments:

sherri@lavenderfileds said...

Wow! I can honestly say I have never heard of a morel before! Thanks for teaching me something new today! They are very different looking, like they would come from the ocean! Have a great Blue Monday and an awesome week. Sherri : )

Coleen's Recipes said...

I'm afraid I will have to admire your chicken with morels recipe from afar. I can't imagine spending that much for mushrooms (I envy your getting them for free!!) The photo looks absolutely delicious!!

My Little Space said...

This recipe is so inviting! I don't think I can find Morels over here but other mushrooms will do fine with this recipe lol. Thanks.

Debinhawaii said...

Gorgeous and so very decadent! If I ever get my hands on some morels I will make this for sure.

Martha said...

This is a favorite of ours in spring when we can find fresh morels here . . . I won't break our food budget using dried!

Interestingly, 20 miles from me there is a morel farm (it's all done inside) -- but they ship out and don't sell locally!

I can attest to this being a yummy dish!

Hootin' Anni said...

I haven't met a chicken with morals that I didn't like! [kidding] Actually, I've never HEARD of morels.

But it DO look tasty!!

KathyB. said...

I will most definitely keep this recipe to hand because we have morels pop up on our property every so often. The first time we found them we were surprised to have such a rich bounty on OUR little piece of land....now we really anticipate them.

BTW, my paternal Grandmother was named Murrell, a misspelling of the fungus delicacy...

Becky K. said...

Mary,

I love that you include tips about the basics of cooking chemistry. The information about butter and oil is very helpful.

I am sure you enjoyed this dish!

Becky K.

Mausi said...

Wow! I love Morel but I only had dried ones so far. I can not find fresh ones. Even dried ones are quite expensive but it taste good.

Your chicken with morel looks really good. Maybe I will try it also.

I too keep the liquid of morel after I soaked them in the water and use it in the cooking. It has lots of flavor in that liquid and it is great to use it!

Mausi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

What a divine meal! I love, love, love Ina. I lined up for hours a couple of years ago to meet her. She is even more beautiful in person than on tv.
I have never had a morel before - I can't wait to try them one day - the chicken with morels sounds like the perfect way to have them.

Coralie Cederna Johnson said...

Fantastic recipe! Perfect for BLUE MONDAY! Thanks for sharing and enjoy your BLUE MONDAY!

chubskulit said...

I always like your entry because it comes with a recipe, thanks for sharing!

To start the week, I am sharing our walk in the park last weekend.

Susan said...

Oh my...I am missing these beautiful morels too much. Might have to plan some travel plans around foraging time of these bits of gold. For me, the dried variety just doesn't do it.

Lea Ann said...

I really think this sounds wonderful. Will have to give it a try. Great pictures.

Cathy said...

Oh my, how lucky you were to be given some fresh morels. I can imagine that this dish was heavenly delicious.

LV said...

Thanks for sharing this information. I have never eaten these, but the recipe makes them sound good. A very good blue showing.

SmilingSally said...

You've taught me again, Mary! Happy Blue Monday to you!

My Crafty Little Page said...

It's too hard coming to your blog...everything looks delicious and I leave hungry!!! Have a wonderful week. :)Nancy

Shy said...

wow $28 for that corals... didn't they are that expessive. You new recipe here sure is look delicious.

Ms Mary, thanks for sharing!Happy Blue Monday.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

That was a fascinating lesson about morels, Mary. And that dish looks like something I would absolutely love. I thought of you yesterday when I had the most delicious salmon I've ever eaten which was fixed with a garlic cream sauce that I would love to have. The steamed vegetables were cooked to perfection, too, and seasoned perfectly. It was such a good meal. This, though, would have topped that one! Thanks for sharing...

Happy Blue Monday!

XO,

Sheila :-)

Diann said...

Hi Mary!

This looks wonderful! We have a cabin in Northern Michigan and we pick morels on a regular basis. I grew up with them as the everyday mushroom we used in meals. LOL We have them and beefstake mushrooms growing like crazy around the woods of our cabin.

Debbie said...

I never knew what a morel was...even though I'd heard the word before. The photo is terrific and looks delicious!

Karen said...

I have never heard of a morel before so I was delighted to learn about them and your picture of them is lovely. The chicken dish looks so good!!

Cindy said...

You know, this looks beautiful and tasty! I love mushrooms but have never tried these lovely morels. I can't recall having them offered to me or even on a menu.I will be on the look out in Denver for this specialty.

storyteller at Sacred Ruminations said...

Interesting dish ;-)
I've not heard of a morel before, but now that you've made me 'aware' ... I'm sure I will in the future! Thanks for visiting and hope you're having a delightful day!
Hugs and blessings,

Maria Berg said...

I will never, never it what you show on the first photo, and so did my dotter say.

BUT I scrolled down the page and the 3de photo said-
Come and eat me and YES I want to do that.
Soo a good photo (and of course a good, chef- YOU) can make the diffrent.

Take care,
Maria Berg

Katy ~ said...

When I win the lottery or sell that best seller, I shall make this. Exquisite!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

So was it worth it? Well, I guess since the morels are free, then yes. I, too, have seen the Ina Garten recipe floating around the interwebs for years. I guess ordinary mushrooms just wouldn't taste the same?

The Blonde Duck said...

So elegant! It looks like something a mermaid would dine on under the sea!

Mary said...

WC, while not as festive crimini mushrooms come close to the flavor here.

daylily777 said...

Beautiful Blue Pics. I have never heard of a morel before , but I like learning about new things.Your food looks delicious as usual .8~)
~Myrna

The Stylish House said...

Mary,
This recipe would be a nice one for company! When I lived in Dubai I learned about clarified butter or Gee as it was also called. To answer your question I’ve been back in the States for several years now. However, I’m always open to another great adventure. Happy Blue Monday.
Cathy

Shelia said...

Hi Mary! Oh, I guess I don't get out much - I've never heard of morels. I wasn't sure what those were when I saw your photo. The dish looks so good.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

ellen b. said...

Mary ~ that really is one amazing looking plate! What fun to get these morels for free. They were free right?

hip chick said...

It does look delish! I would be to afraid to eat mushrooms I had gathered myself.

George Gaston said...

Mary what a delicious looking morel sauce. I love their full flavor and richness they bring to a dish. Definitely will try and get some, so I can try your wonderful recipe. Many thanks...

Jane F at Atticmag said...

Mary -- That's a delicious looking recipe -- so glad I stopped by today. If only we had fresh morilles. They have such a wonderful, earthy flavor. I'm a bit surprised she didn't reduce the cooking liquid (which I love as a moistener in a mushroom-bread stuffing) but that would tend to darken the sauce. This most definitely provides more than one perfect bite! Thanks for coming over to sample my soup.

Mary said...

Ellen, we picked the mushrooms. At this time of year morels and chanterelles are abundant in our forests.

girlichef said...

Beautiful, rich dish...sounds amazing :D

Charles said...

Oh I do want these and now is soon enough. Thanks for posting.

claudie said...

YUMMY MARY!!!!
When I lived in Vancouver, I did eat morels. I really like them.
Love the blue picture & the "up close and personal" view of a morel.
It belongs in the sea.
Happy Blue Monday
Love Claudie
xoxoxo

Angie said...

What a delicious recipe! I'll have to save this one for a very special occasion though, and thanks so much for the link!

Pam said...

Rich and creamy! This dish is calling my name Mary. It looks so delicious.

Selba said...

This is really a new stuff for me coz' I'm not familiar at all with morels :)

Ginger said...

Do you think that you could adopt me? I would LOVE to try this dish!!

chriesi said...

What a gorgous dish!

joey said...

Tucking this wonderful recipe away for May ... morel time in Michigan :)

Mary said...

Joey, our morel season began late - normally late May and June - so they started to come to market much later than usual. We also have a range of elevations here and morels are available in the high country until we have a freeze.

Julia said...

That looks delicious and I will pass it on to friends who go mushroom hunting. Growing up in Indiana we had a lot of neighbors who went mushroom hunting but I never learned the technique myself.

Carly said...

This looks yummy! I'm adding this to my list of dinners to make!

Lori said...

Free morels are WAY better than loose morals.

Okay all kidding aside, this looks fantastic. I have not had a morel or a chanterelle yet. I know. I cant believe it either.

Jamie said...

Mary, every time I see something gorgeous and luscious-looking on one of the food porn sites and want to get the recipe, I click and - lo and behold - 3 times out of 4 it's yours! Why am I no longer surprised! This dish looks fabulous and I have so wanted to cook with morels. I can get a small package of the dried for under 10€, not bad, so maybe I'll surprise husband with this amazing dish!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

How did I miss this post, until now?
I used to think morels were ugly, therefore I wasn't about to try them-- until I went to a swanky party and had them. I was hooked.
I am having company this weekend, and maybe I won't use morels (cost-wise) but the sauce sounds so fabulous that I might snoop around and see what I could substitute.
I'm a huge fan of Ina Garten, so I can almost taste the flavors. Wow. How lucky for you to have fresh morels.

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