Through all the snow, I still cannot help think about spring. over 8 inches of snow forecasted for tomorrow and it is April 10th. Curiously enough, I am almost as excited as I am perturbed with the weather. More precipitation could possibly mean a greater harvest of morels this year, and last year was a record breaker for my friends and I, we got almost 400 morels from one spot!
With this in mind, I have been thinking and dreaming of the forest excursions to come, and using up my cache of dried morels in the process. Dried wild mushrooms need to be reconstituted in some liquidy substance. Given this, one of the greatest gifts they give is in their reconstituting liquid. Morels in particular give off a very fragrant and rich liquid. So what better to highlight this strength of their’s than to showcase it in a refined morel consomme? A mere one ounce of morels will flavor enough stock to satisfy 8 people with a rich, clear broth like this.
A consomme is a clarified broth. I often like to use these to highlight a particular ingredient, in this case morels. You get to taste the morels here in two ways, in its broth form, and texturally, as I add the dried morels themselves that have been used to flavor the broth. In this recipe I used morels and some different spring ingredients, to remind myself that soon the snow will be gone. If your consomme is a bit cloudy and not as clear as you like it, an easy fix is to simply strain the consomme through a coffee filter, it will take a little bit, but 99 percent of the time this should do the trick.
- 2 oz dried morel mushrooms
- 1 carrot peeled and chopped
- 1 rib celery chopped
- 1 small white onion chopped
- A fresh bay leaf
- 12 cups of good chicken stock
- Whites of 6 eggs
- 2 oz smoked ham julienned
- 4 eggs poached
- 1 oz each peas lightly blanched, or simply use frozen peas, they will work fine
- 1 tablespoon diced ramp leaves
- 2 thinly sliced pickled ramps
- Take the carrot, onion, celery, morels, bay leaf and water, put in a small stockpot and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer very very gently for 30 minutes, then take off the heat, strain out the solids, remove the morels and let the stock cool to room temp. Then remove the morels, slice in half, wash and clean for any grit, and set aside.
- Now whisk the egg whites lightly and add to the cooled broth, put in a small stockpot and, whisking gently and slowly-continuously, bring the mixture almost to a simmer, you will start to see particles arising and forming at the top, when you see this, turn the heat down to very very low, and wait for the rest of the "raft" to rise to the top, this is removing visual impurities from the broth and clarifying it.
- Wait for 10 minutes, then gently slide some of the coagulated egg white on top of the stock over with a spoon to reveal the now clear broth underneath.
- Reveal more clear broth with the spoon until you have an area wide enough to accommodate a ladle to remove the clear broth. Ladle the morel consomme out of the stockpot and pass through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into another clean pot and keep warm, season with salt to taste.
- To serve, place all the garnishes in individual bowls, ladle the consomme piping hot over the garnishes, serve immediately.
- It's fun to pick little garnishes to float in your clarified broth. I chose to use spring ingredients as I am craving them right now, you could use whatever you want, diced cooked potatoes would be nice, as would a dice of root vegetables. Flavored and colored oils are also fun to garnish a consomme as they float on top of the broth. Morels go well with other spring ingredients so I chose to use a garnish of sliced pickled ramps, diced ramp leaves, sliced morels, julienned ham, a poached egg, and green peas. For four people, I would use the following proportions: