Growing up, I was the oddball among the kids in my neighborhood because I loved mushrooms. I can still remember the response I got from my best friend when I, quite bewilderedly, asked her why she didn’t like mushrooms. Her reply was that, “They just lay on my tongue and my teeth won’t chew ‘em.” Obviously this made quite an impression on me because I can remember it as clearly today as I did back then.
The problem with being a mushroom lover, particularly when one of those loves are the delicious, woodsy, nutty morels, is that they have a season, and if you don’t happen to catch that season and get them fresh, then you have to wait until the following spring. At least that’s what I always thought. Then, one day, madly craving morels, I took a chance on a package of the dried variety, and I am ever glad that I did. Not only did they look like the fresh ones that I know and love, once hydrated, but they tasted like them too. No more unrequited cravings for me, now I can have morels when I want. If you haven’t tried hydrating dried mushrooms, give them a try, and while you’re at it, make pasta!
Pasta with Morel Mushroom Cream Sauce
Recipe from Midwest Living Magazine
1-2 ounces Melissa’s dried morel mushrooms
3 cups chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
1/4 cup snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
Hot cooked pasta
Snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley (optional)
If using dried mushrooms, heat the 3 cups broth or water to simmering. Remove from heat. Add dried mushrooms; let mushrooms stand 20 minutes. Strain mixture through a 100% cotton cheesecloth-lined sieve, reserving 1 cup broth. Rinse mushrooms under warm running water; squeeze out excess moisture. Slice in half lengthwise any of the larger mushrooms; set aside.
For sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Add shallots. Cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes or until shallots are tender. Sprinkle flour over shallots; stir to combine. Slowly add reserved 1 cup broth, stirring until smooth. Reduce to low heat. Cook, uncovered, for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and white pepper. Slowly whisk in the whipping cream. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat for 7 minutes more or until the mixture thickens. Stir in reserved morels and 1/4 cup parsley. Cook and stir until heated through.
Spoon sauce over pasta. If you like, sprinkle with additional parsley.
Makes 4 to 6 main-dish servings.