If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where you can go morel hunting, this recipe is for you. If you can’t find morels where you are, you can use any wild mushrooms (or even regular old white mushrooms) and still get a delicious sauce– it just won’t be quite AS delicious as it is with morels. Morels are made for this: combine them with pungent garlic, fragrant sherry, fresh herbs, and sweet cream, and I’d argue this is the best way you can eat them. Serve this sauce on almost anything– steak, pasta, polenta, toast, even scrambled eggs. I served it with elk steaks from my boyfriend’s fall harvest, and it was a chef’s kiss of a meal.
If you’re using store-prepped mushrooms, this sauce comes together in the same amount of time it takes a couple of steaks to cook– just a few minutes. If you’re using morels and need to prep them, that will add a bit of work, but if you’ve already been out hunting for these little gems in the brush for hours, you’re not the kind of person who would care!
To prep your morels, you’ll need to look them over and soak them. When you examine them, make sure the stalk is entirely hollow (a solid stem indicates that the mushroom is a false morel, which is poisonous). Discard any solid-stemmed mushrooms and wash your hands after handling them. Next, soak them in hot salted water for 5-10 minutes (this will kill any bugs hiding inside). Gently swish them in the water every now and then to turn them and get all of the dirt out of their crannies. After 10 minutes, take the mushrooms out and let them drain on towels or paper towels and you’re ready to go.
You will need:
1 lb. fresh morels (or other mushrooms, wild are preferable)
3 cloves garlic
¼ C sherry
1 tsp beef bullion
½ C white wine
A handful of fresh green herbs (I recommend chives, tarragon, and parsley
A bit of salt
Depending on the size of the mushrooms, you may want to cut them in half or in pieces. Mine were medium-sized, so I just halved them. If you’re using regular mushrooms, wipe them clean with a wet paper towel, then cut them into ¼” slices.
Mince your shallots and garlic, and finely chop your herbs. I used tarragon, thyme, and chives, because that’s what I had, but I think it’s best with tarragon, parsley, and chives. Definitely don’t skip the chives.
Melt half of the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and let them cook for a couple minutes, until the shallots are translucent and the garlic is smelling wonderful.
Add your mushrooms, and toss gently to combine. You may need a bit more butter here; you want the pan coated so the mushrooms don’t stick and burn. After about a minute, add a SLIGHT sprinkle of salt. You’re also adding bullion (and potentially pan drippings) later, and those can be quite salty, so use a light hand here.
When the mushrooms wilt, take the pan off of the oven and add the sherry. USE CAUTION, the alcohol is flammable! If you’re using a gas stove, you CAN flambé the dish, but it’s not necessary. It cooks the alcohol off and adds a caramel flavor, so I like to do it. Also it is exciting!! Just be careful. If you’re substituting something more highly alcoholic, like whiskey, be extra careful (I’m serious, the flames from that can reach the stove hood).
To flambé, once the sherry is all added, stretch your arm out so your body is clear of the stovetop, and CAREFULLY tip the pan toward the flames. The alcohol should ignite, burning with a low purple or blue flame. Set it on the burner and let it die out. (I don’t have a pic of this because I didn’t want to set myself on fire trying to get a photo.)
Let the alcohol cook down, then add the wine and beef bullion (I only had mushroom bullion, but that works, too). Let that cook for a few minutes, until it is slightly reduced. At this point you can also add any pan drippings if you’ve made an accompanying steak. Give it a stir and add salt if it’s needed.
Finally, add the cream and about half of the herbs.
Give it a stir, and let it get nice and thick and bubbly. Taste again for salt.
Serve with a sprinkle of the remaining herbs and a nice red wine, and get ready to have the best meal of your life!