Every year, for the past few years, I’ve been buying morels from Oregon as soon as they become available as a sign of Spring. (www.oregonmushrooms.com)
This year my shipment of one pound of black morels and one pound of blond morels arrived on Tuesday. What’s great about morels is their versatility and simplicity. You can use them in many dishes and you are better off doing as little as possible to them. The purity of morels as an ingredient, their ability to express earthiness and depth, is astounding.
I was first introduced to them by my wife 27 years ago when she saw them on the menu at Lutece at a dinner to celebrate my father’s sixtieth birthday. They were served then in little copper pots in a cream sauce, and immediately I got it.
Here the menu each night with the morels is expressive. We’re talking:
• A Japanese style “nabe” or stew of black morels, dashi, minced ginger, and sesame oil
• Risotto with Hokkaido rice, miso broth, blond morels, fava beans, and ramps
• Sauteed black morels on toasted bread with melted Gruyere and chopped chives
• Tiny pasta with blond morels, miso broth, duck breast, ramps, and white asparagus
• Poussin in a stew with blond morels
You get the picture. What’s marvelous, too, about morels is how little animal protein is desired when cooking with them.