This dish is a classic French morel preparation found in Périgord and Lyon. Here we’ve turned the dish into an appetizer by placing the morels and cream sauce in puff pastry shells, which though easy to prepare will offer an impressive introduction to your feast.
8 ounces fresh morels, or 2 ounces dried morels
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 shallot, finely minced
¼ cup dry white wine
¾ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Puff pastry shells (vol-au-vent shells)
Clean the morels. If using dried morels, first rehydrate them in ¾ cup hot water. Soak for 20 minutes, then drain and follow the instructions for fresh morels. If using fresh morels, wash them under running water and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
[Chef’s Note: Because of their hollow body and distinctive arched cap, morels are the perfect hiding place for little critters of the forest, who love morels as much as we do. It’s important to clean them thoroughly to avoid adding any unwanted additional “protein” to the meal. You can drain the soaking liquid using a coffee filter to remove the grit, and use this flavorful liquid to enrich a stock or sauce.]
If the morels are large, cut them in half. If they are small, leave them whole.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the minced shallots and morels, along with salt and pepper, to taste. Sauté for a few minutes until the shallots are translucent and the morels begin to soften, then add the lemon juice, white wine and soaking liquid (if using reconstituted morels), and braise the morels for about 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream to the pan and reduce until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and mount the sauce with additional cold butter, if necessary, and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.
Place the puff pastry shells on a platter and fill with the morel cream sauce. Serve immediately.
[Chef’s Note: Should you wish to make the pastry shells by hand, see our recipe for Minted Pea Purée Canapés.]
Recipe and photo by Mark Tafoya