Friday, June 14, 2013

In Season - Morel Mushrooms

This summer, I’ve decided to eat “in season.”   I seriously considered joining a CSA but with a busy summer coming up, I was worried that a lot of it would go to waste.  Instead I’ve decided to hit multiple farmers markets, double my budget, and buy what is in season locally.   I normally hit the farmers markets but tend to just buy the "usual" things.  I’m so looking forward to playing with the freshest produce available this summer.

For my first endeavor, I bought fresh asparagus and morels at the Mill City Farmers Market.  

The morels were $45/pound.  Yikes!  A small handful set me back $12.   Needless to say, I was really anxious to experiment with them.  I feel like I had tried them before but couldn’t remember when or where.  I think maybe in a soup or a sauce some time ago?  I remember a distinct earthy, nutty flavor and that is what I was expecting.

I decided to make an asparagus risotto with sautéed trout and top it with morels that I was planning to sauté in butter and season with salt and pepper, which is the recommended cooking method in many articles and by the farm I bought them from.

I’ve made risotto so many times that I don’t really follow a recipe.  This is my usual method: I sauté butter, shallots, and garlic; and then add the rice to sauté for a little bit; then add some white wine; then a little bit of lemon juice (I only use lemon juice for some risottos; not all); and then add the chicken stock slowly.   I then finished it by adding about a cup of freshly grated parmesan and sautéed asparagus.   Risotto usually takes about 22 minutes to make.  

SIDEBAR: I pulled out my book How to Pick a Peach to read about the proper way to pick and store asparagus.  One interesting thing that I learned is that you are supposed to peel asparagus.  How did I never know that? For choosing asparagus, the tip should be firm with no trace of softening and the base should be moist.  For storing, keep the spears upright in a container of water and drape a plastic bad over the top to create a moisture trap.  

For the fish, I seasoned it with salt, pepper, and cayenne and then sautéd it in olive oil over medium-high heat.

This is the thickest trout I have ever seen.  It tasted amazing.

For the morels, I cut them in half and then sautéed them over high heat with clarified butter.

Of course the presentation was gorgeou;s but I was so hungry I forgot to take a photo of the final dish, so you’ll have to use your imagination…… 

I made this dinner for my husband and sister and they were not big fans of the morels (my husband even scraped them off).  Admittedly, they didn’t really do much for me either. Which was a bummer, given all of my excitement and anticipation.  The morels didn’t get caramelized because they hold a lot of moisture, so it was more like they were steamed.   And the texture is weird; very sponge like.   However, I do like the deep, unique  flavor.  Next time I think I will chop them up into much smaller pieces and add them to a sauce or soup.

Do you have any morel tricks or recipes?  Do tell…….

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