Weekday Vegetarian: Stuffed Spring Morels
Photo Credit: Kelly Rossiter
When my husband and I attended the Brewer's Plate earlier this year my hands-down favourite thing was a morel dish that I've been thinking about ever since. I've been waiting for morels to be available at the farmers' market, so I could make some semblance of it. I looked up Lloyd's coverage of the Brewer's Plate and saw that the recipe was Smoke dried tomato buffalo milk ricotta stuffed morels with preserved Brussels sprouts, shallot confit and black garlic Wellington's Imperial Stout and morel consomme created and cooked by Brooke Kavanagh of La Palette. Okay, that isn't what I made at all, but it was still fabulous.I knew there was no way I could pull off such a gorgeous dish with such intense flavours just from memory, so I just went with the idea of stuffing the morels with cheese. I got my morels from the always affable Seth at Forbes Wild Foods, who carefully hand picked the best morels for stuffing, and then filled my bag with smaller mushrooms that I could use in a pasta. I then headed off to the Nancy's Cheese, where my son works to ask Nancy's advice about the cheese I should use. Of course, if I had looked up Lloyd's post before I went, it might have made things easier, but in any case we decided not to go with a ricotta, but with a semi-soft cheese from Quebec called Le Mont-Jacob from the Fromagerie Blackburn. Really, the important thing is to get a cheese which melts well, and doesn't separate when heated.
I know that this looks fussy, but it really isn't. Choose morels with a good size opening and without any tears in the flesh, and then cut the cheese into small pieces and push them into the hole, until it is more or less filled. I remembered the shallot confit and the broth, but I settled for making some caramelized onions and some garlic scapes as a bed for the mushrooms. These were so good I made them again the next day, but didn't bother with onions. Morels are expensive, so you aren't going to make a lot, but this is rich, so a little goes a long way. I made 4 or 5 mushrooms for each of us, and while my mouth wanted more, my stomach was quite happy. I served this with a crisp green salad with a mustard vinaigrette to balance the richness of the mushrooms.
Stuffed Spring Morels
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic scape, sliced
8 - 10 fresh morels
2 ozs semi soft cheese or buffalo milk ricotta, cut into small pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a small skillet heat 1/2 tbsp of the butter until just melted. Add the onion and cook over a low heat until the onions have begun to caramelize. This could take 15 or 20 minutes. Be careful not to allow the onions to burn. Add the scapes and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile wipe any dirt off the morels with a damp cloth. Push the cheese through the opening in the end of the morel, using a small knife to push it in further if necessary. Set aside and repeat until all of the mushrooms are stuffed.
3. Once the onions are done, place them on a plate and set aside. Heat the remaining butter and add the mushrooms to the pan. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes and then using tongs, turn them over and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes or until the mushrooms are softened and cooked and the cheese has melted. Some of the cheese will ooze out into the pan, but that's fine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When the morels are cooked use a spatula to lift them from the pan, taking any of the cheese that has melted out as well. Place the morels on the bed of onion and serve immediately.