Every year, my brother hunts morels. I can’t tell you where he finds them, he won’t even tell me. But he’ll share them… when there’s more than his household can consume, and his younger daughter is a fiend for them floured and fried. This year, I got a couple pounds, and with Sue out for a Mothers’ Day Eve Girls Night Out, it’s back to Bachelor Chow again.
The last few years, the morel harvest near Chicago has been poor: we had a warm, dry spring last year which resulted in almost nothing. This year, my brother has gone out hunting three times, finding both regular and the small “greys”, and piles of them in his usual secret spots. They’ve been a little odd: there’s more stem and less wrinkly cap, he says because the long snow cover left a heavy leaf litter that the mushrooms have to push further through.
So tonight, dining alone, I made pasta with what I had in the fridge. There’s likely to be a couple more meals from this batch of lovely morels. If you look at my pictures below, I probably chopped them up too much: they shrink an awful lot, partly because they’re hollow, I think. I might add a little nutmeg instead of the black pepper on a future try, and just plain more morels. The pasta used is Garafalo whole wheat pappardelle. It’s not my favorite: even after a couple extra minutes beyond the suggested 8, they’re kind of stiff and overly chewy. I fear if I cooked them longer, they’d go straight to gummy without ever reaching classic al dente. The chard was left over from last weekend’s empañadas and were on their last legs — I’d forgotten I had some of it cooked and left over, and in a pinch I have some blanched lacinato kale from my garden in the freezer.
Recipe: Pappardelle with Morels, Chard and Gorgonzola
Serves one hungry person, or two with a contorno of rapini or maybe some roast chicken.
2 Tbs (30ml) unsalted butter
About 6oz (175g) morels, chopped, and rinsed briefly to remove grit (I’d suggest just slicing them in half lengthwise)
6oz (175g) chard, removed from stems and chopped
6oz (175g) pappardelle pasta
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper (or nutmeg)
pinch of crushed red pepper
2 oz gorgonzola cheese
3 Tbs (45ml) white wine
1/4 C (60ml) cream
1/4 C (60ml) grated parmesan
1 Tbs (15ml) finely chopped parsley
- Fill a large pot with water, add salt “to taste like the sea” and heat on high.
- Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat the butter on medium until it has melted and the foam has subsided
- Add the mushrooms, and saute until most of the butter is absorbed.
- Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and stir for 30 seconds
- Add the chard and white wine, then cover and put the heat on low.
- About this time, the water should be boiling. Add the pasta and stir occasionally. Cook as directed, perhaps a bit less.
- After a couple minutes, add the gorgonzola to the morel pan, until it melts, then remove from heat until the pasta is ready.
- Drain the pasta and add it and the cream to the morel pan (do not rinse), with heat on low
- Cook and stir until the pasta is well coated and the sauce has thickened
- Add the parmesan and parsley, taste for salt and pepper, and serve
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