The month of April has flown way too fast; between the social food events, April A to Z Blog Challenge, and my cooking – swamped would be an understatement.
Lo and behold, I get this email from Marx Foods about their 4th Annual Blogger Morel Challenge. I know I just mentioned how inundated I am but how can I resist the temptation to win 2 lbs of fresh morels? After all, I am a true lover of fungi.
At the end of the day I am a minimalist; fresh wild mushrooms sauteed in butter and thyme, sprinkled with balsamic vinegar and black pepper – you got me grinning like a Cheshire cat.
The challenge for me was trying to create a recipe which incorporates these basic ingredients I pair mushrooms with to create a masterpiece. The idea was to showcase the prized morels as the star of the evening and not cast it into a supporting role or obscure the delicacy of it.
Finally after careful deliberation, way too close to the submission deadline, I found my inspiration.
Given that I am an over-achiever, it seemed quite normal for me to tinker with two original recipes to ideally portray the delectable morels.That said even though the other recipe had golden beets, goat cheese, & bacon (flavors I enjoy mushrooms with), in comparison somehow failed to impress me. Ultimately the true test lies in taste. It simply wasn’t drool worthy. Without further adieu I present to you:
Mighty Morel meets the spectacular Marmalade paired with Goat Cheese Polenta. Spectacular Morel Marmalade that is luscious, tangy, sweet, spicy, in other words Umami in each bite. Oh My! I know it is cliché’ but my 9-year-old who doesn’t fancy mushrooms squealed ‘ this is the best thing I have ever tasted in my life’!
Rapturous Morel Marmalade
I admit that this recipe is tedious but with a bit of perseverance and a lot of love, you will create a winner for your next cocktail party or any other time you feel like indulging yourself. Since my ideal pairing for mushrooms is goat cheese, thyme, balsamic vinegar, and bacon, I serve the morels with a Goat Cheese Polenta.
For the Mushrooms:
- 8 oz fresh morels or reconstituted dried morels
- 4 slices bacon or pancetta
- 2 sprigs thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup veal stock
For the Marmalade:
- 1 cup port wine
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cups diced shallots
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- salt to taste
- Goat Cheese Polenta (recipe follows)
- Softened Goat Cheese or Creme Fraiche
- In a large sauté pan, cook the bacon till lightly crisp. Remove the bacon and add morels, pinch of salt, and 2 tbs of butter. Cook till the mushrooms develop a nice brown crust. Add veal stock and thyme, simmer rapidly till the stock is more or less evaporated, leaving the mushrooms moist with the tiniest amount of liquid. Set aside.
- In a separate large pan heat 3 tbsp butter. Saute the shallots and carrots with a pinch of salt till softened, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sugars, vinegar, port wine, kosher salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until the liquid has completely evaporated.
- Chop the sautéed mushrooms and bacon bits. Add to the warm sauce and combine gently but thoroughly over low heat till warmed. Check for black pepper, it should be fairly peppery. Serve with goat cheese polenta and crème fraîche. Be warned – highly addictive!!
Goat Cheese Polenta
Makes about 10-12 small shaped bites.
- 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoons ground black pepper
- salt to taste
- 1 cup polenta
- 1/2 cup soft goat cheese
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- Bring the chicken stock, 2 tbsp butter, pepper, thyme, and salt to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Sprinkle polenta slowly while constantly stirring the liquid. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and constantly stir the polenta till it pulls away from the sides of the pan. The polenta is cooked when it is creamy and no longer grainy. It should take about 20-25 minutes to get the right consistency. (I cook polenta for at least an hour when I want it extra creamy as I serve it with my short ribs).
- Stir in the goat cheese and taste the seasonings. Pour immediately into a butter glass pan. When cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Cut the polenta into any shape you wish. I usually cut them into bite size since I serve this at my cocktail parties.
- Heat a big skillet with some olive oil. Pan fry the bites till golden brown on each side. Top it with Morel Marmalade and crème fraîche. Serve warm.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed cooking it. Buon Appetito!!