Do a little dance…Morel a little love…

Do a little dance…Morel a little love…

… get down tonight.

It’s been a week of dancing around the kitchen. The day of the car crash I received a package of dried Morels from Marx Foods, as part of their most current recipe contest. After taking a couple of days to screw my head back on straight, I dug in and got busy with the test kitchen on Sunday. I thought it would be a down and dirty quick recipe – shoot the thing back off to Marx Foods – and call it a day. The trick was to come up with something that’s never been done before. All the sexy things I pulled out of my um…head had either been done.. to death , or just didn’t really taste very exciting when it was all put together.

Until I found my bottle of Jamesons in the pantry.

Then like the A-Team.. it all came together… or, maybe it was just the liquor talking.

Unfortunately, I’ve come up with 4 (yeah, that’s four) different recipes, and I really can’t decide which one they’re going to get. What I have decided to do is to load you all up with some super sexy morel love. I’ll post one a day for the next four days, and you guys tell me which one gets you.. I mean really gets you.

Dried Morel picture by Marx Foods

In case you aren’t familiar with morels. They are the webby, fluted things in the above picture. An elegant, delicate mushroom with some keen nutty and woodsy notes. If you think of a run of the mill button mushroom as the baseline – a morel is Mushroom  Plus. headier flavors, more of what you expect a mushroom to taste like, with a little hickory nut, walnut essence thrown in for good measure.

While dried morels can be used in the dry state (we’ll be using some of them that way later in the week) they can be easily re-hydrated by soaking in water for 30 min to an hour before using.

Today’s recipe is Chicken with Drunken Morels

Chicken With Drunken Morels
Serves 2
2 Chicken Thighs – Bone In / Skin Off
8 to 10 Dried Morels
6 Button Mushrooms – Thinly Sliced

2 Cups Warm Water
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
1/2 Spanish Onion
5 Ripe or Dry Cured Olives – Pitted and Chopped
1/4 Cup Fennel Tops  – Minced (if you don’t happen to have them – substitute 1/4 Teaspoon Fennel Seeds and 1/4 Cup Minced Parsley)
1/2 Cup Jamesons Irish Whiskey
1/2 Cup Mushroom Soaking Liquid
2 Tablespoons Oil
1/4 Cup Flour
Salt and Pepper
1 Tablespoon Butter
Large Skillet with Lid
Small Bowl
Here’s the thing with chicken thighs. 99.99999% of the time I prefer to use them with the skin on. I happen to like the extra chicken-y goodness that chicken fat and skin imparts into a dish. However, since this is going to simmer for a bit, I say take it off. In order to get the thighs to cook evenly, take your knife on either side of the bone and cut down into the flesh about half-way through the thigh. This will let the muscle to open up and allow you to keep that good, good bone in the mix.

  • Re-hydrate the morels in the warm water for 30 minutes
  • Lightly dry the morels and slice into 1/4″ rings
  • Mince the Onion, Fennel tops and olives
  • Salt and pepper the prepared thighs and dredge in flour
  • With the skillet  and the oil on medium high heat, brown each thigh lightly on both sides – this will take about 4 minutes per side
  • Remove and set aside
  • Add the Morels and button mushrooms to the same pan and saute for a couple of minutes
  • Add the onions, fennel and olives and saute until the onions are translucent
  • Add the stock, Jamesons and 1/2 Cup of the morel re-hydrating liquid
  • Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer
  • Add the chicken thighs, turning them over in the broth
  • Cover and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Check at about 1/2 way and turn the thighs over
  • Remove the  chicken and bring the liquid back to a boil for another minute
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the tablespoon of butter
  • Place the chicken on a platter and ladle the morel sauce over the thighs
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