Out of all the things that can be made with dried morels, this is one of my favorites. Everybody loves a good steak, and the addition of mushrooms is classic. Using morels instead of cultivated mushrooms brings this basic combination to new heights. I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine too: when I have wanted to impress someone special, this recipe has served me well.
I remember a few years ago I was dating a girl, she was coming over for dinner for the first time. I made an amuse bouche of rabbit tenderloin wrapped in salted pork lard, lobster, gnocchi with morel sauce, and chocolate souffles. The meal was fine, and the rest of our evening was great. She didn’t have the foggiest idea what a morel was, but for months afterwords, whenever I talked about what was for dinner, I remember she would bring up the gnocchi in morel sauce, crooning: “OHHH GAWD! ALAN, THOSE MUSHROOMS!”. Needless to say you can sauce two, 2 ounce portions of gnocchi with this recipe.
Whether you have a man or woman you want to impress, or just want to plan fun dinner to show off your morels, I guarantee you: once you try this it will become a staple of your’s for special occasions. Essentially this is a simple pan sauce made from fond, (brown stuff left in a pan from searing a steak) dried morels and their reconstituting liquid, meat stock, an allium (onion) of your choice, cream, and cognac. What you end up with is one of the richest sauces I know. The recipe itself is a cinch to make, rich in flavor, and really flexible if you have a stash of dried wild mushrooms, since many varieties, especially boletes would work well too.
This is a great example of where dried morels shine, although you could definitely make this with fresh as well or a combination of the two if you are feeling especially flamboyant. Dried morels have a deeper, more concentrated flavor than fresh, and when amplified by cream, they become quite an experience. If you’re a morel hunter, you probably have a couple lying around dried from the previous season. If you’re not a morel hunter that’s fine, dried morels can be purchased at most supermarkets, and you wont break the bank buying a small retail package, half of which is all this recipe requires.
The steak you use can be anything you want, it could even be a beef roast, pork chops, heck you could even use chicken. There’s just something about a great cut of steak that’s evocative of a special time though, don’t you think? I personally don’t eat lots of steak, but when I do, I try to have fun with it. I often get the question: “what’s you’re favorite cut of steak?” Here are some I like to pick from, in no particular order:
Different Cuts of Steak
Flat Iron/Top Blade Steak
This has become increasingly popular lately. The flat iron is a steak from the shoulder, it’s a fine cut of meat, with plenty of flavor. It’s also reasonably priced.
Teres Major Steak
Without a doubt, this is the most unheard of steak you must try. Another one from the shoulder, it’s not only soft like a tenderloin, but actually has more flavor since it is used more often by the animal. I’ve heard tales from old timer cooks in the area that a number of well known restaurants in the Twin Cities served these and called them tenderloin after the price of beef skyrocketed in the late nineties- Naughty, Naughty!
This is the classic French Bistro steak, also known by the name “Onglet” or butcher’s tenderloin. It is not as tender as many, but it’s rich, beefy flavor is wonderful.
Think tenderloin means the best cut of meat? Not at all. Tenderloin is hands down, the most tasteless cut of beef possible. It’s tender though.
NY Strip/Kansas City Strip
A great all around steak, they are expensive, but worth it. If you can find “Kansas City Strips” try those, they still have the bone attached.
For the carnal instinct in all of us, this is a combo of NY Stip and Tenderloin. Basically, a porterhouse and a T-bone are the same steak. A porterhouse is just a t-bone with more of the expensive tenderloin attached. I do like me a good porterhouse, and it makes a great “date steak” since one can usually serve two people, unless you are a cave man and want to eat the whole darn thing.
These are the same thing, and an awesome cut of meat. The only difference is that a prime rib is cooked whole and sliced, where ribeye are cut and cooked individually.
This is a perfectly fine steak to eat, look for top sirloin, as opposed to bottom, since bottom can be more chewy. Bottom sirloin will sometimes be labeled just “sirloin steak”. Both are fine when cooked correctly.
Flank, Chuck, and Round Steaks
These cuts are sometimes labeled “steak”. Flank steak can be cooked like other steaks on the grill, but it will need to be sliced and properly rested to be tender. They’re good for fajitas and times when the meat should be sliced. Chuck and round “steak” is not really a steak you want to grill. These cuts should be roasted or braised.
Basic Steak with Morel Sauce
Serves two. Serve with some seasonal vegetables, like braised greens and maybe some roasted fingerling potatoes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: About 30 minutes to sear the steaks and make the sauce, the steaks could also be seared, rested, reheated and the sauce made in advance
- Steaks of your choosing, I suggest 4-5 ounces/person. Steak is rich, having a smaller portion means room for dessert.
- 1/4 cup cognac, (you could also use brandy, white wine, or whiskey)
- 10 grams dried morels+water to cover
- 2 cups cream
- 1 tbsp shallot, diced
- 1 cup chicken or beef stock
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- High smoke point oil for searing such as grapeseed, canola, or lard
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 250. Rehydrate and clean the dried morels by soaking them in cold water to cover until soft. Do this in something with a lid like a mason jar. Agitate the morels by shaking the jar to remove dirt and debris. Remove the morels with a slotted spoon, then strain their leftover liquor. Return the morels to their liquid and reserve.
- Heat a cast iron or stainless steel pan until lightly smoking, you may want to open a window. Season the steaks with salt and pepper, then sear the meat on high heat until golden brown on each side. Put the steaks on a wire rack on a cookie sheet and place in the oven just to warm them through gently and prevent overcooking.
- Remove the oil from the pan, with a cloth or towel, but leave the brown bits or “fond”, since it will become the base of your sauce.
- While the steaks are slowly heating in the oven, add the butter and shallots to the pan and stir to remove the brown bits. Cook for 2 minutes, or until lightly colored, do not allow them to burn though.
- When the steaks are done to your liking take them out of the oven and let them rest in a warm place. The steaks will give off juice as they rest, reserve this to add to the pan with the cognac and stock.
- Deglaze the pan with the cognac, then cook until the pan is almost dry. Now add the morels and their liquor along with the chicken or meat stock, and steak juice, then cook until the pan is almost dry again, about 5 minutes. Add the cream reduce for a few minutes until it thickens, season with salt and pepper. Serve the steaks with the sauce on the side.