The morel — morille in French — is a springtime mushroom, but that doesn’t mean we need to wait until spring to enjoy it. Dried morels work wonderfully with any number of dishes, for example this risotto, in which they add a woodsy touch to the flavors of Arborio rice, parmesan, butter, onion, broth and dry white wine. The result is a sophisticated dish with enough star power to stand on its own. It can also accompany a main dish with distinction.
Risotto aux morilles / Risotto with morel mushrooms
I tried drying my own mushrooms once, with dubious results. It was after a trip to the forest with my Burgundy neighbor Isabelle, who had agreed to show me her favorite spots for gathering cèpes (porcini). The mushrooms were out in abundance, and we returned with baskets overflowing. (We calculated later that we could have made hundreds of euros had we taken those baskets to the market). After putting aside some mushrooms to use in an omelet, we strung up the rest with a thread and needle, peasant style, and hung them in front of our respective fireplaces to dry. Well, I clearly did something wrong because when I took them down in the spring they were dusty and smoky. Better to buy them, says I.
Now, for any Americans who may be reading this post, I’d like to say a word about Thanksgiving. There are a few recipes on this site that you may find useful if you care/dare to break with the traditional turkey, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce:
1) Rolled roast of duck with rosemary, Roast quail and Chicken with walnut sauce are possible substitutes for turkey.
2) Here’s the recipe of the three-star chef Georges Blanc for a fabulous Pumpkin gratin.
3) Pomegranate salad can make a nice change from cranberry sauce.
And in case you missed it, this week The New York Times ran an amusing (and controversial) list of 50 Thanksgiving recipes allegedly from the 50 states. I was delighted to see wild rice representing Wisconsin — the state where I grew up — but others were less so with recipes like Lobster Mac and Cheese (Maine) or Grape Salad (Minnesota). It’s a fun read in any event, and I actually found the list to be inspiring.
Finally, I am proud to say that my friend Astrid Volquardsen, a talented pastel artist from Germany, has written a blog post about the forthcoming Arte television broadcast in which I help Georges Blanc put a French-style Thanksgiving dinner on the table. The program, which runs this Sunday at noon in France, pairs food with a painting — in this case Norman Rockwell’s Plenty — to reflect on culture and history. I’m actually camera shy and had to conquer that fear to appear on the program. But it was worth it to enjoy the honor of preparing cranberry sauce for M. Blanc. Quite a thrill…