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morel boost

Recipe: morel bourbon cream sauce

People can be so awful to others. They can also be wonderful to one another. There is no shortage of chatter about it all, and after a while my head hurts as much as my heart does. That’s when I really need to spend time outside to sort the spaghetti knot of feelings in my chest, free of that noise.

calypso orchids

hiking through the lupine

lightning strike on the mountain

We are keeping busy shuttling back and forth between Nederland and Crested Butte. I know a lot of people hate the word busy, but I don’t. Busy for me isn’t bad. Busy means a full schedule – that my time is taken up with both the things I have to do and the things I want to do. I realize I’m busy by choice, and I’m grateful for that.

Despite being over a year old now, Neva’s training is ongoing. She was introduced to the SUP (standup paddle board) last summer when she was a little puppy, but then she spent the next seven months learning to be a ski dog. While the rising snowline in the mountains translates into spring runoff, Neva is reacquainting herself with the liquid form of snow. Her first swim of the season was splashy and uncoordinated, but by the second dip, she was already getting her swim legs back and performing running jumps into the water. After a few days of confident swimming, it was time to see if she could ride the SUP and remain on the board. She only dove off a few times and once she even climbed back onto the board with a lift from Jeremy. She has a life vest coming in the mail soon, so I hope things will only improve with our little adventure pup.

she’s no longer nervous on the board, she is excited

watching for fish in the lake

I’m still keeping my eyes peeled around these parts for black morels, but they aren’t flushing like they were a couple of weeks before in one area. We scouted a couple of trails only to be left wondering if we’d lost our mojo or if the mushrooms were late, done, or just having a bad year? But on my trail run Friday morning, I found two single morels very far apart from one another – one in a somewhat unexpected environment and the other in what I consider typical surroundings. I left them in place to do their thing (send spores into the air) and kept my fingers crossed that the season isn’t over just yet.

short and squat, but in perfectly good condition

But in case the season IS coming to an abrupt end, I’ve got another winner of a morel recipe for you. This is far and away Jeremy’s *favorite* from my morel recipe testing session because it has morels and bourbon and cream, and it all goes on top of steak. This is the real reason I trail run…

cream, beef broth, pepper, morels, salt, butter, shallots, balsamic vinegar, bourbon

slice the morels in half lengthwise

rinse them clean and pat them dry

I imagine almost any edible mushroom would be fine in this recipe, but the morels are really something special – a nice meaty texture and great mushroom flavor (a little funky, a little earthy, a lot of yum). I highly recommend dry frying the mushrooms first, to release and evaporate a good bit of the moisture in the mushrooms and to concentrate the morel goodness. It smells like gym socks, but it tastes like heaven. When they are wilted and the liquid is almost completely cooked away, remove the mushrooms to a bowl.

dry fry the mushrooms in a hot pan

when the liquid is nearly gone, remove the mushrooms from the pan

To start the sauce, melt the butter in the same pan and fry up the shallots. You could use garlic or onions instead of shallots, but I really like shallots. When the shallots have softened, add the morels back into the pan and do a quick sauté to coat the mushroom pieces. When the morels absorb the butter, add the beef stock to the pan. Want to keep it vegetarian? You can use vegetable stock or a mushroom stock. Simmer the liquid down until it is reduced by half or more. Next add the bourbon. Actually, I only added half of the bourbon, because I wanted that boozy bourbon presence in the finished product. If you want bourbon flavor without the hit of booze, then add all of the bourbon at this point because the alcohol will mostly boil off (I believe a very small percentage remains in the sauce). Simmer this down until it is reduced by half.

sauté the shallots in melted butter

add the morels

pour the beef broth into the pan

add half of the bourbon

Next, the cream and remaining bourbon (if you want a stronger bourbon flavor) go into the pan and should be simmered until you reach your desired consistency. I only simmered briefly since I reduced most of the other liquids. It was like a thin cream gravy. The final touch is to finish the sauce with a little bit of balsamic vinegar – like a half teaspoon. Don’t skip that part. Even though you can’t really taste the vinegar on the sauce, it adds that touch of acid which brightens the sauce and brings out the other flavors. Trust me on this.

the cream goes into the pan

along with the rest of the bourbon

finish with a dash of balsamic vinegar

about 3 cups of highly addictive sauce

What you end up with is a smooth and creamy umami-packed heady sauce that is amazing on meats, pasta, vegetables, whatever you can think of. A week later, and Jeremy is *still* reminiscing about the sauce and how much he loved it and how that is his absolute number one favorite mushroom sauce in the whole wide world. I have to admit that I, too, think this is nirvana on a plate.

spoon some over steak… or anything

a little chopped parsley for color

get ready for your umami bomb

Morel Bourbon Cream Sauce
[print recipe]
adapted from this recipe

8 oz. fresh morels (or 2 oz. dried morels, reconstituted), sliced in halves lengthwise
4 tbsps unsalted butter
1/4 cup shallot, fine dice
1 cup beef broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1/4 cup bourbon
1 cup heavy cream
dash balsamic vinegar

Rinse the morels under cold water and pat dry. Heat a wide sauté or frying pan over medium high heat. Arrange the morels evenly in the pan and dry fry them until they give up their liquid. Let the liquid mostly boil off, then remove the mushrooms from the pan to a bowl. Melt the butter in the same pan over medium high heat. When the butter is hot, add the shallots and sauté until translucent (about 2-3 minutes). Add the morels to the shallots and stir to coat the mushrooms.

Pour the beef broth into the pan and let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the liquid boil off by half or more. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the mushrooms and pour in half of the bourbon. Reduce the liquid by half and then pour the cream and remaining bourbon into the pan. Let the sauce come to a simmer and reduce to your desired consistency (I reduced just a little bit). When the sauce is to your liking, stir in the balsamic vinegar to finish the sauce. Serve immediately over steak or pasta or whatever you deem a worthy vehicle for delivering this amazing sauce. Makes about 3 cups (depending on how much you reduce the liquid).

more goodness from the use real butter archives

fried morel mushrooms fresh porcini mushroom pasta cream of chanterelle soup chicken fried steak biscuits with chanterelle gravy

7 nibbles at “morel boost”

  1. Kristin says:

    Morels, bourbon, cream AND shallots! Yummy, yummy. This looks amazing. Does Neva jumping off the boards make them rock enough to send you off too? I’m fairly certain I would go overboard.

  2. Mary Karen says:

    This looks to be YUM to the MAX! Made a Maple Syrup, Bourbon, Balsamic, Garlic marinade/reduction sauce for some salmon last week that was good…loving that it’s Copper River Salmon time!

  3. Mimi says:

    Absolutely gorgeous. Wish I could get my hands on some fresh mushrooms!!!

  4. Jill Hyde says:

    I’ve never seen a wild orchid. My goodness they are beautiful. Love the SUP pics, so serene.

  5. angelitacarmelita says:

    That looks pretty amazing…. I love mushrooms period, and this sauce (w/omg bourbon?) shot straight to the top of my ‘must make’ list. The photography from this post is also simply amazing. And even though I have not been able to get out and walk off my heavy heart, your photos certainly help lift it! Thanks Jen.

  6. Amber says:

    What kind of steak did you use? Just looks nice and thick.

  7. jenyu says:

    Kristin – Neva jumping off the board makes for a lot of rocking, but Jeremy and I manage to stay on when we’re kneeling. We haven’t tried standing on the boards with her yet because she bounces all over the place and would probably send us into the water each time.

    Mary Karen – ooh, that sounds lovely!

    Mimi – I bet you could substitute other mushrooms in this recipe and it would still be fabulous :)

    Jill – thank you! And yes, the wild orchids around here are very pretty and delicate (tiny).

    angelitacarmelita – thank you, sweetie. I hope you get to make this sauce – just spoon it straight into your mouth if you don’t have the patience to cook a steak ;)

    Amber – that would be a 1.5 inch ribeye. Yummy!! :)

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