About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007
A Morel Dilemma




Well, it looks like this must be just about the last entry for the month to Waiter, there's something in my...

I can't say its been exactly pie weather during a very hot February in Melbourne but I've eventually managed to pull it all together. There were a couple of false starts, Stargazy pie got a lot of thought, but after a long look through my library and a troll of the Internet couldn't find a recipe that actually sounded as if I would want to eat it, so I left Stargazy to the good people of Mouse.

Since I was into the unusual I thought about an offal pie featuring brains, but the hot weather put me off that idea as well. What was needed was something simple and classic, how about a chicken pie? Not any old chicken pie but one that involved a couple of other ingredients in a menage a trois, where each attends to the other needs and the sum becomes greater than the whole. A love-in if you like. But what things would propel chicken to orgasmic heights?

One of them was lurking in the pantry cupboard, well our linen press really. We are avid mushroomers and pick and dry a significant part of the forage. A couple of 2 litre preserving jars are full to the brim with prize morels. Chicken with morels is a timeless classic, one that makes for a very happy marriage, but do you think that either could say no to another partner, one that has been flirting with both, toying with their affections?

It was time to make the love circle complete.

The season for this particular vegetable is nearly over, what that means is the plump early spears have given way to slender stalks of asparagus, perfect for a pie. And asparagus is perfect for chicken and perfect for morels, the love triangle was set.

Now it is time for me to own up. Am I a leg or breast man? Each has there own undoubted attractive qualities and at times it can be impossible to choose betwixt. There is nothing so comely as smooth, rounded breasts - but that must be weighed against a shapely set of legs, full of promise and mystery. One could almost imagine Meatloaf singing one of his operatic ballads about being torn between the two. But not me, I'm a leg man.

So the chicken I chose for the pie was skinned and boneless marylands. Meat from the thigh has more flavour and can stand up to the cooking better than the breast meat which can so easily dry out. There is also another thing to consider. I know that I'm extremely fortunate in having some morel spots to pick and that if you have to purchase them, even though they are so worth it, they are very expensive. But if they are unavailable or out of price reach, this pie would still be good with regular button mushrooms, quartered. You could even add some anyway to bulk up the pie and make it a foursome after Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.

You have to decide where your morel centre is, that may be kind of hard after eating this pie.

CHICKEN PIE WITH MORELS & ASPARAGUS

2 shallots, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
50 g butter
1 kg skinned and boneless chicken marylands, cubed
20 dried morels, soaked in boiling water (retain the soak water)
100 g small button mushrooms, halved or quartered (optional)
1 heaped tablespoon flour
1 cup chicken stock
100 ml double cream
10 slender asparagus stalks, chopped in 1 cm segments
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
salt & fresh ground pepper
4 sheets bought puff pastry
eggwash

Method: sweat the shallots and garlic in 25 g butter and when soft add the chicken cubes, soaked morels and button mushrooms if using and fry until lightly coloured. Meanwhile make a veloute sauce. Melt the remaining butter in a pot and add the flour, gently cook for a minute or two, then slowly add the hot chicken stock, whisking all the time, then add the cream, leave to simmer for ten minutes. When the chicken is lightly browned add the mushroom soak water and boil until nearly evaporated then add the veloute sauce, asparagus and parsley, season to taste and simmer for one minute, leave to cool. Line two pie dishes with the puff pastry and fill with the cooled pie mixture. Top with the other sheets of pastry, brush with eggwash and scallop the edges. Bake in a 220 c oven until the pie is a dark golden colour all over, if you pull it out too early the bottom pastry won't be cooked. Cool slightly, cut into wedges and serve.

Labels: ,

 
  posted at 7:09 am
  12 comments



12 Comments:
At 2:05 pm, Blogger Cindy said...

That's the kind of morel dilemma that could get me batting for the other team! The 'other team' being omnivores, of course. ;-)

 
At 2:49 pm, Blogger Debra said...

Could you give lessons to other husbands? Mine for instance... I'm the cook in this family, and will definitely bookmark you blog, because I love new recipes. Also, seeing we are from different ends of the world, I'm sure your blog will have some wonderful new recipes.

 
At 5:36 pm, Blogger Pille said...

Morel dilemma:) I need to keep my eyes open for morel mushrooms - apparently they're somewhere out there.
Pille, a chicken breast woman

 
At 6:13 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi cindy, it doesn't matter which team you bat for so long as you enjoy doing it. Morels and asparagus are a great match, if you left out the chicken and added in some button mushrooms, it would still be a great pie.

Hi debra, I'm glad you like the recipes. I think with cooking it's one of those things that gets you in or doesn't, don't be hard on hubby, just point him at the vacum cleaner!

Hi pille, well at least we'd never argue over a chicken. I do know there are morels in Poland so for sure you must have some too. They're not easy to spot but if you are lucky enough to find one, look carefully, there are always more around. If you can find a friendly mycologist they might suggest an area that you could look in.

 
At 12:37 am, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Ahh, Neil I do so enjoy reading your high level morel dilemma.
If the pie is as good as the writing, it's great!

 
At 1:08 am, Anonymous Ellie said...

That pie sounds amazing, and I am jealous of your mushroom picking ability! I tried reading up on it last year but became disheartened after reading about the vast array of mushrooms which can bring about painful death :(

 
At 1:54 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, I think the pie was better than my writing!

Hi ellie, you just can't read up about mushrooms, you have to find someone to show you, there are always mushrooming trips about, keep your eyes open, especially if it starts to rain. There's only one really bad one, the self explanatory death cap, the red one with white spots is actually a cheap way to get high, though there is a recorded death.

 
At 5:21 am, Blogger Brilynn said...

I pick and dry morels as well, this pie definitely wouldn't be the same without them... nothing is.

 
At 10:07 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi brilynn, you're sure right there, I think we are members of a very exclusive club.

 
At 3:39 am, Blogger Jeanne said...

So if I have used up my stash of morels does that make me immorel?? And I have to say that if I were the two core members of a threesome I might have concerns about inviting asparagus only after the thick stems of summer have given way to the thin, spindly ones... :o) But moving rapidly along!!

Chicken, morels and cream must be one of the most luxurious things on the planet. I carefully rationed my stash of dried morels that I carried back from France and went into raptures each time we ate them. Bliss. You are so lucky to be confident enough to go foraging - I think all those years of my parents telling me that anything I picked in the wild would Definitely Kill Me unfortunately did the trick :-(

Thanks for an awesome contribution to WTSIM and hope to see you again next month!

 
At 10:23 am, Blogger Cindy said...

You were right, Neil. I pulled this recipe out of the archives last week and thoroughly enjoyed a chicken-less version. Thanks for the inspiration!

 
At 2:32 pm, Blogger neil said...

You don't get away that easy Cindy! What did you replace the chicken with and did you use morels? Umm, my archives huh. Thank heavens for Google search.

 

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