The arrival of morel mushrooms announces spring. These wild mushrooms have long been a source of passion and culinary inspiration. A chef’s favorite, morels have an opulent, earthy flavor and texture that builds wonderful, rich sauces, but can be enjoyed simply sautéed in butter. Read on to learn more about this revered mushroom and get our stuffed morel recipe.
How to Clean Morel Mushrooms
Cleaning morels can be tricky because of the honeycomb texture, and all the nooks and crannies in the cap. As there may be uninvited visitors nestled inside the pits of a morel, cleaning is necessary.
Trim off the end of the stem. If you notice any grit, brush it off lightly. If extremely gritty, a quick rinse in cold water followed by immediate drying on paper towels or cloth will be necessary. Keep in mind that water is the enemy of mushrooms. Larger morels can be cut in half lengthwise to clean out the center of the stem (unless you are stuffing them, as in the recipe below).
Do not eat morels raw. Leave smaller morels whole. Larger morels should be sliced in half, or fourths, before cooking.
Stuffed Morel Mushrooms
Our easy and delicious recipe for fresh morels stuffed with creamy polenta can only be enjoyed when this wild mushroom is in season.
YIELD: SERVES 6 AS A CANAPE
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
30 large whole Fresh Morel Mushrooms, cleaned thoroughly, ends trimmed
1¼ cup chicken stock
1¼ cup half & half
½ cup polenta
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley, divided use
¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
¼ cup Fontina, finely grated
Freshly ground black pepper
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add morels, gently turning to coat. Season with salt. Cook morels until just softened (they may collapse a bit) being careful not to tear or break them. Drain morels on paper towels and set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium saucepan, bring chicken stock and half & half to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in polenta and continue to cook, stirring often, until polenta starts to “spit.”
Turn heat down to low and continue to cook, stirring often, until polenta has softened, about 20 minutes. Adding a little water as needed to keep polenta loose enough to pipe but not runny (think buttercream frosting). Stir in 2 tablespoons parsley and cheeses.
Season to taste with salt & pepper then remove from heat. Allow the polenta to cool to just above body temp then load into a pastry bag fitted with a medium-sized round tip.
Carefully pipe cooled polenta into morels, filling the cavities completely. Place filled mushrooms in a lightly greased gratin dish and bake until morels are slightly browned and crisped, and polenta is warmed, about 10 minutes. Garnish with remaining parsley.
Order morel mushrooms this week – they available at dartagnan.com for a limited time only!
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