Morels in Cream on Brioche (Morilles à la Crème)

  • Fresh morels are one of the many, MANY wonderful things about the farmer's market in May. You can also find them dried all year-round, so if you are craving this in October (and who could blame you?), use 1 ounce dried morels in place of the fresh. Soak them in very hot water for about 20 minutes to re-hydrate them. Drain them, rinse them, and proceed as below.

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound fresh morel mushrooms, trimmed, washed well, and patted dry (see below)
  • 1 cup mushroom or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 5 slices brioche, each cut into 2 triangles and toasted

1/4 cup crème fraîche

1 tablespoon snipped chives

Salt and pepper

In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter, letting it cook until the foam subsides. Add the thyme and morels, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are golden and slightly crisp, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the remaining butter and the shallots. Sauté until the shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes, then pour in the broth. Raise the heat to high and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in the cream, season with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.

For a fancy presentation, place 1 toast triangle on each of 4 plates. Top with a few tablespoons of the morel mixture. Place a second triangle at a different angle on top and spoon over the rest of the mushroom mixture. Dollop each serving with creme fraiche. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately.

Washing morels: The trick to washing vegetables like morels or leeks is to lift them out of the water instead of pouring the whole thing through a strainer. (When you do that, you just pour any sand or grit back over them, which kind of defeats the purpose!) Fill a large bowl with cold water, add the vegetables, and swish them around. Lift them out of the water and transfer to a strainer. Repeat with fresh water a couple of times.

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