If you're having a rough time with the weather, this should cheer you up.
A wild morel mushroom, found during the rainiest day this week.
Our morels were not huge, but they were tasty.
Or possibly this.
Cosmic Apple Gardens starters were just dropped off at Jackson Whole Grocer.
So you can jump-start your garden.
Organic heirloom tomatoes, basil, mustard greens, swiss chard, kohlrabi, Lacinato kale, new fire red lettuce, joi choi Chinese greens, arugula to name a few...
Jed and Dale from Cosmic Apple Gardens in Victor, Idaho are a sight for sore eyes. They bring not just starter plants, but the promise of summer.
The sun made a brief appearance yesterday, curing seasonal depresssions and invigorating those of us in a vegetative state. I went on a hike, rode my bike, turned over my garden, and hunted morels. But I found no morels in the sun; I only found them in the pouring rain.
Patty's very first "found-it-all-by-myself" wild morel mushroom. I can't wait to hear what she made with her morels. Patty is an amazing cook.
The sun made me snap out of my chicken curry and elk stew comfort zone, my pasta and red sauce jag. Today I needed a meal fit for the first sunny sky, the first bluebird, the first morel.
I found my morels in muddy, boggy areas, and their dark striations made them very hard to see.
Oops. I wasn't supposed to tell you about the morels. Sworn to secrecy by the sisterhood of the morel hunters, I was. But it is such fantastic news on such an otherwise bleak May month, that I can't keep it a secret any longer. They're up. Go get some.
My modest take was just enough to make this dish.
Morel Smothered Chicken has that whole umami thing going on. The earthy mushrooms, the almost burnt shallot, the bacon, the abundant garlic, and the acidic edge of lemon rind provide layers and layers of flavor. This dish comes together in under 30 minutes, but tastes like it simmered all day.
You could remove the thyme leave from the stems, but hey, it's a weeknight.
To read about how to make perfectly seared morels and Risotto with Pancetta and Morels, visit Obsessed with Morels
Morel Mushroom Hunting 101
Here are few tidbits that I (a novice hunter) have picked up from hanging out with the more experienced morel hunters.
- Start looking for morels in mid-May. Depending on how much rain/sun we get, the season could last into early June.
- Morels start popping up on the West side of the Tetons first, then start to appear in the Jackson Hole valley. They may be seen at the south end of the valley first.
- Look in wet, boggy areas along the Snake River, beneath cottonwood trees.
- If you find one morel, squat down and look around carefully. There are probably more that you overlooked.
- Take a kid with you. Being low to the ground and having sharp eyes is definitely an advantage.
- Morels like terrain that has been "disturbed", such as a burn, or an excavation site. Some forest fire burns have produced legendarily bountiful yet brief crops of morels.
- Practice good mushroom hunting etiquette. Don't hunt on private land (bad karma). Don't move in on another hunter's territory. Approach the terrain as if you were fishing the river; would you fish someone else's pool?
- Once you have bagged your wild mushrooms, take them home and inspect them. A true morel will have a hollow stem. Tap the stems to rid them of insects. If the mushrooms are very dirty, soak them briefly in cold salty water, and then gently dry with a towel. If they are not too dirty, brush them with a toothbrush or other soft brush, and place them on a rack to dry out. Store them on the rack for 2-3 days, then place them in a paper bag (not plastic) and keep at room temperature.
- The most successful morel mushroom hunters ending up having so many morels that they have to dry them. A standard food dehydrator works well, as does air drying on a rack for several days. Reconstitute in hot water prior to use.
Morel Smothered Chicken....can you say umami?
For a printable version of the recipe, click on the file below it.
Morel Smothered Chicken
This is an original, jacksonholefoodie recipe that serves 4. Feel free to tinker with it as you see fit.
If you can't find any morels in your neighborhood, shiitake mushrooms make a great substitute. Who could argue with a piece of chicken smothered in shiitake mushrooms? No one.
My morels were on the small side, perfect for cooking whole in a sauce. If yours are bigger, you may want to halve or quarter them. Dry them out a for a day or two first, too; they will soak up the sauce better.
This recipe calls for a small piece of preserved lemon rind, but some finely grated lemon rind will work just fine. I just love throwing preserved lemon into just about everything, and I happen to have a jar in my refrigerator at all times, so it's easy.
If you want to make Moroccan style preserved lemons of your very own, click here
. They'll take about 3 weeks to pickle. If you want to buy some right now, go to the Aspens Market
, they usually have a big jar of them in the deli case.
The Aspens Market usually has Preserved Lemons in the deli case, at a very good price, I might add.
- 4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- 2 cups morel mushrooms, cleaned with a brush and tapped to remove any critters, or 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and thickly sliced
- 1 whole shallot, finely chopped
- 1/4 of a preserved lemon, rinsed of salt, flesh removed, and finely chopped, or the juice of 1 lemon + the finely grated zest
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 slice bacon, finely chopped
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup vermouth or dry white wine
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 sprigs of thyme, plus more for serving
- pinch of Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
Morel Smothered Mushrooms with Capellini, Asparagus and Parmesan.
|File Size: ||119 kb|
|File Type: || docx|
I don't have a culinary word today, but I do have a culinary suggestion. Check out the Jackson Hole Community School's live auction site, (http://www.uniqueexperienceauction.com/Unique_Experience_Auction/home.html)
for some really cool local foodie finds. You could bid on an Argentina Night cooking class with me (we'll be making empanadas, an asado, gnocchi, and dulce la leche). There is also a wild game night, a cooking class at Shooting Star, a day in the kitchen with Oscar Ortega, our local chocolatier, and much, much more.