Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Elusive Morel

Morel mushrooms, with their creepy brainy appearance and hollow stems, are perhaps one of the strangest yet delicious fungi around! These glorious shrooms are only available for a very limited time in the spring. Some say "when the oak leaves are the size of a squirrel's ear" or "when you can smell lilac in the air," it is time to start hunting! Morel hunting is serious business to "shroomers" everywhere, not to mention quite lucrative! Lucky for me, my husband hooked me up with a pound of these fabulous fungi from a local shroomer friend, who sold his remaining bounty for $25/lb to one of the best restaurants in town. (You think that's high? I've seen them priced at $50/lb!) This brought on the thought of myself going morel hunting, hmm? I'm a Geologist after all and I'm not afraid of getting dirty...except, I wouldn't sell any of, they are loaded with bugs making them difficult to clean properly...and then there's the ticks... On second thought, perhaps $25/lb isn't so bad!

One of the most common morel mushroom preparations is to batter and fry them. Somehow, this just seemed a waste of my ephemeral beauties. I decided instead to go all out and make "Grilled Peppered Beef Tenderloin with a Morel Mushroom Cabernet Sauce and Whipped Yukon Gold Potatoes!" This recipe comes from Annie Gunn's, a fabulous steakhouse in St. Louis, Missouri. It is also worth noting that Annie Gunn's Chef Lou Rook has recently published his first cookbook called Rook Cooks: Simplicity at its finest. I haven't got my hands on it yet, but it's on my radar! Anyway, so after completely blowing my weekly grocery budget with $25 for my morels, a small fortune for the very best, highest quality, thickest fillets I could find, oh yeah, and a bottle of Cabernet, I realized we might be eating quite frugally for the rest of the week! Was it worth it? Absolutely! It was outstanding! I couldn't think of a better way to use my marvelous morels! Note: Due to endless rain in my area, I wasn't able to grill the fillets, rather cooked them by searing and finishing in the oven. It's a great technique! See Suave Poivre!

Grilled Peppered Beef Tenderloin with a Morel Mushroom Cabernet Sauce and Whipped Yukon Gold Potatoes

Serves 4

For the tenderloin
4, 10 ounce tenderloin fillets
3 tablespoons cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil

For the morel mushroom sauce
2 ounces pure olive oil
16 ounces (1 lb) morel mushrooms
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 ounces Cabernet Sauvignon
6 ounces brown veal stock (or in a pinch, you could use beef stock)
2 tablespoon fresh thyme
4 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper

For the potatoes
2 pounds peeled Yukon Gold potatoes
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 pound unsalted butter (That is an inconceivable amount! I couldn't do it, I added 1/4 pound butter and extra cream to desired consistency)
Salt and pepper (I used white pepper.)

For the tenderloin
Roll the fillet in salt and pepper. Massage meat with olive oil. Grill to desired degree of doneness.

For the morel mushroom sauce
In a skillet with oil, saute mushrooms until tender. Add garlic and allow to brown lightly. Deglaze skillet with Cabernet and reduce by 3/4. Add veal stock and reduce by half. Add thyme and finish with butter. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.

For the potatoes
Place potatoes in a stockpot with lukewarm water to cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and skim the foam off the top. Cook until tender.

In a saucepot, heat cream and butter while potatoes are cooking. Drain water from potatoes and put through a sieve, add butter and cream, and season with salt and pepper. Whip vigorously.

Serve fillet with mushroom sauce and whipped potatoes.

Absolutely Fabulous!

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