The mushrooms came from a Sunday venture to the Eastern Cascades with a few friends. You want to carpool in these days of $4 gas, because you never know whether the wily fungi will be showing themselves. They’re known to play hide-n-seek like mischievous gnomes. I’d estimate my final take paid for my share of the gas and maybe a wee bit more. Which is to say I did okay—enough for a good meal—but nothing to brag about.
The morels are about three weeks late in our region. We focused on the 3,000-foot level, which normally produces by the first week in May, and though we didn’t pull out basketfuls, the morels we found were all firm and thick-walled. A stump produced a ring of a dozen or so; the others were onesies and twosies, mostly onesies. The last—and best—morel of the day I spied at 20 mph from the back seat as Lori sped down a logging road.
Peppered Beef Medallions with Red Wine Morel Sauce for Two
I found this recipe on the Food Network while searching for morel-wine reduction sauces. It’s simple and intuitive, but my suggestion (reflected in the steps below) is to increase the amounts of cabernet and veal stock; morels like to drink. Fresh wild mushrooms in general are like perfect little sponges: they seem to possess a limitless capacity to soak up whatever liquid you throw at them. Of course, this makes for very tasty mushrooms, but if you’re like me, you want to have some sauce to pour over the steak. I underestimated this time around and was left with mostly super-succulent morels and not a lot of gravy.
Halve a pound of morels and saute in olive oil for several minutes until cooked through, then add two tbsp minced garlic. When garlic is golden, deglaze with a cup of red wine; reduce by three-quarters. Add a cup of veal stock and reduce by half. While the sauce is simmering stir in a tbsp of fresh chopped thyme and season to taste. Just before you’re ready to serve, melt in two tbsp butter, which will give body to your sauce and make the whole shebang glisten in an attractive way. Serve over a generously peppered medallion or tenderloin of beef, with creamy mashed potatoes and a hearty red.
Make this meal once the children are sound asleep. My three-year-old daughter was still awake and she settled in next to me like a pet dog, flashing her soulful brown eyes and begging for bite after bite.