Morel Challenge Update: Part 2

The busier I got in my preparation of my morel meal (main dish, two sides and a dessert), the fewer pictures I took. My main dish, Pork Loin with Morel Stuffing was simple to make: do the prep work, stick it in the oven and move on. For the first side, I decided to make Fettuccine with Morels, Asparagus and Goat Cheese, a recipe I’d done before. It was the second side dish – the one that I created without a recipe – that received the most praise, was the most temperamental and was, I think, the biggest risk.

I’d received a stern talking-to from the Produce Guy a few weeks ago about covering the flavor of morels, so when selecting my menu, I was cautious to pick flavors that weren’t too strong, flavors that wouldn’t overpower the woodsy mushroom. I also needed something to break through the million pounds of cream and butter that my recipes called for, and felt that the little asparagus in the other side dish wasn’t enough color for the plate. So when it came to the second side, I chose blackberries as an accompaniment. They provided a deep rich color, were tangy enough to cut through the fats and are woodsy in themselves.

(I learned a little about terroir in wine several years ago, and wholeheartedly believe that foods that are found close to one another either in locale or in time of year are designed to go together. Both the morel and the blackberry can be found in the wild, so I went with it.)

My dish? Fried Morels Stuffed with Mascarpone and served with Blackberry Chutney.

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Prior to last weekend, I’d never:

1. Deep fried anything that turned out worthwhile. (With the exception of Latkes.)

2. Used a piping bag.

3. Made a chutney of any kind.

This was a dish of trial and error. And lots of luck. In the future, I would probably mix something with a kick into the Mascarpone. But all in all, the side dish came out swimmingly and probably won the competition for me.

And then there was dessert. (More to come.)

Fried Morels Stuffed with Mascarpone and served with Blackberry Chutney

Whole Morels, soaked in salt water and strained
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk (Snowville Creamery, if in Ohio)
2 cups of bread crumb
2 cups cooking oil (I used olive oil because that’s what I had.)
1 container Mascarpone, room temperature (Vermont Butter & Cheese is good.)
1 container blackberries
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teas. sugar
2 TB. shallots, diced
1 TB. butter

1. Sauté the shallots in the butter. Add the blackberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar and simmer on low for about 15 minutes, or until everyone wants to go to the Bigfoot Conference. Remove from heat.

2. Heat olive oil in pan. Beat together egg and milk. Dip morel into mixture and then into a small bowl with the bread crumbs. Place in simmering oil for about 1-2 minutes, turning to make sure both sides are cooked. Remove from pot and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with all the morels. (I served one per person.)

3. Fill piping bag with Mascarpone. Push cheese into the center of each morel. Place in warm oven until ready to serve. Serve with a spoonful of room temperature chutney.

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