There are certain culinary convergences that must be responsible for the rising and setting of the sun.
When the tastes of fresh asparagus, shallot, a pat of sweet butter, a bit of cream and, yes, morels presented themselves in the same dish, I knew I was in the presence of food royalty. Every bite had the promise of being a luxurious testament to the powerful simplicity of a single ingredient.
Of course, asparagus is at its height in this moment of the season, and I never, ever tire of it. But, even with luminous supporting characters such as the subtle shallot and fresh tarragon, and the noteworthy enrichments of a tad of butter and a splash of cream, morels are the stars.
The morels at PFM were harvested in Bend. This year’s crop is small so prices are high. Sky-high… like $36/pound. They only remain in good condition for a couple of days at home so I knew I needed to press a strategy into immediate action. I purchased only the small amount I knew I could use.
A dish of fresh spring loot need not conform to a recipe. Simply sweat a thinly sliced shallot in 1-2 Tbsp of butter with the thickly sliced few ounces of morels you’ll be using in the dish, stems removed, rinsed and accumulated for use in mushroom broth. Cooking time is 5-6 min. Add 1 bunch of asparagus cut in 1″ pieces plus 1 C of vegetable stock or mushroom broth. My veggie stock has a particularly high concentration of asparagus in it which subtly supports the overall flavor of the dish. Simmer for 3-4 min.
If you wish for the dish to include pasta, cook it separately at this time; drain and toss with either 2 Tbsp of fresh or 1.5 tsp of dried tarragon.
Finish the dish with a splash… up to 1/4 C… of whole cream, and season with salt and pepper. Stir into cooked pasta. The more prominence the earthy, nutty, creamy flavor of the morels can have in the dish, the better, so please resist the temptation to finish further.
Had morels been priced [much] more reasonably, I’d have purchased in larger quantity to dehydrate as has been past practice with morels and porcini. Alas, not this season.
My memory of the jewels in this dish will have to linger long so I savored every bite. The reverent acknowledgment of this meal’s simple excellence qualifies as a curtsy.
Long live culinary royalty.