Thursday, October 20, 2005

Smashing Mushrooms

Tonight, mum and I were home alone for dinner together, so it was time to pull something storecupboard, yet special, out of the One & Two chapter. Actually, I'm quite in the mood for luxury - I'm in the midst of writing a marketing assignment on Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), which is the world's largest luxury products group. They control such fabulous brands as Louis Vuitton, TAG Heuer, Fendi, Cloudy Bay, Emilio Pucci, Kenzo, Chateau d'Yquem, Veuve Cliquot, Marc Jacobs and so on. So whilst I'm only dreaming about products that are most certainly out of my reach (unless I become maitresse to the CEO, that Bernard Arnault guy... don't laugh, it could happen!), at least my dinner had a touch of luxury to it.

155. Chicken with Morels (One & Two)

This is the ingredient that makes it luxurious - the morels. I got them a couple of months ago, at the post-apocalyptic price of $18.60 for 15 grams, at The Essential Ingredient.

Here they are, aren't they cute in their little plastic container? (By the way, I'm not a total unco, I took the photo in focus, but the blogger photo upload program resizes pictures, thus fuzzing this one up. But it's ok, you get the gist of it). Yeah, so the container is cute, until you try to open the bugger - it was tight as anything! I tried teatowels, rubber gloves, and hot water to try and open it, but it was staying firmly shut.

So in frustration, I just turned it over and (gently, yet passionately) whacked it with a pestle.

Smashed open

I then very, very carefully picked out all the bits of plastic, and put the morels in a jug, as per the recipe.

Morels in a jug - they look like slugs, huh?

You have to soak these in hot water for about thirty minutes before using them. In the meantime, the recipe instructs you to brown the skin of the chicken thigh pieces, and leave them aside on a plate. Then you cook onion and garlic in the same pot, and add the drained morels, chicken pieces, Marsala and the morel soaking liquid, to which you add 1/3 mushroom stock cube. Let it simmer until cooked, remove the chicken, and boil down the sauce to a suitable consistency. Then, add a spoon of mascarpone (more luxury, see), stir it in. Serve the chicken with the sauce and morels poured over, and sprinkled with parsley. We had it with rice, and wedges of iceberg lettuce (Nigella says to eat it with "a pale, crisp and astringent green salad").

Chicken with Morels

Chicken with Morels, Salad, Rice

We absolutely loved it. My mum adores mushrooms, and I adore marsala (what self-respecting Nigella-fan doesn't?). I'd never had morels before, but I thought they were very nice - not as strongly flavoured as porcini or shiitake, but with their own delicious, mushroom flavour, and a soft but non-sluglike texture. The dish as a whole was quite rich, but the plain steamed rice and salad counterbalance this. The chicken thighs were quite big, so we managed to save one for my dad to try as well.

But of course, as much as she loved them, I didn't actually tell Mum how much the mushrooms cost. I didn't want to ruin her dinner. Don't forget, she's the one who couldn't bring herself to spend $8.50 for six passionfruit. I guess this means I should also give up hope of her buying me a bottle of Veuve Cliquot for our next dinner party...


Frances said...

Ooooh! Did it smell as good as it looks?

Is anyone in Australia worried about bird flu in poultry?
Spanish newspapers today are saying there has been a 30-40% drop in chicken sales!!

Sarah said...

Yeah, it smelled fantastic! Ooh and after Dad came home from parent teacher interviews he had the remaining piece and LOVED it.

I haven't heard heaps about bird flu here (and remember, I am a conscientious student of Agricultural Economics, so I should be aware of these things)... but Wes at work was complaining that he had "bird flu" a couple of weeks ago. Hehehe, he's a funny one. But seriously, he was all congested, it was gross.

xox Sarah

ex said...

Mmm, looks fabulous! I love morels, they are my favorite mushroom & native (grow wild) in my home state of Michigan, u.s.a. My friend once found some that were as big as her hand, we stuffed them.

Frances said...

Seems like the morels were a huge success!!!! and I like your attitude to bird flu...

what bird flu!

kirsten said...

Looks very delicious - morels have always fascinated me - the nmae, their shape - but I have yet to try them. Since I adore all the rest of the ingredients, I think I might try this dish in the near future. Have to go morel-searching now, bye!


kirsten said...

I mean name, of course...