I find that a lot of times, experiences give me ideas of things to make in the kitchen. A couple springs ago, I was hunting morels in Iowa with my friend, we had found plenty of ramps, but left them be to hunt out our real quarry: morels. Eventually we got to a park where his friend told us there were plenty of morels. We only found a few, but along the way we ran into some turkey hunters. We had an exchange that went something like this:
Turkey Hunters: “You boys finding any mushrooms?”
Us: “Not really, just a couple”
Turkey Hunters: “That’s too bad” (Shows us a grocery bag full of morels to brag a bit) Did you see any turkeys?
Us: “Yeah we saw a few”
Turkey Hunters (excitedly): Where were they?!
Us: Right over the ridge, that-a-way
The turkey hunters seemed a little annoyed that we were trying to pick morels in their spot, but at the same time it was cool to share in their spring tradition with them. After I got home, I decided to make a dish featuring turkey and morels in rillette form; a little something to help me remember our trip.
Rillettes are a form of charcuterie or cured meat. Usually I make them from confit, but you can use braised meat as well, they are great on a cracker, with some pickles or anything acidic.
Turkey and Morel Rillettes
- 2 ea turkey legs and thighs
- 1 oz dried morels
- 1 sheet of leaf gelatin or sub 1.5 tsp powdered
- Water- enough to cover the turkey legs in a large braising pot
- 1 carrot
- 1 small onion
- 1 rib celery
- 1/4 cup butter or lard
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 Bay leaf
- Put the turkey legs, vegetables, wine, bay leaf and morels in a stock pot. Bring this mixture to a simmer, making absolutely sure it does not boil, otherwise your gelatin will be cloudy. Cook covered, slowly on medium low heat until the turkey is falling apart, about an hour and a half. strain the remaining liquid, remove the morels and turkey legs from the pot, discard the vegetables and bay leaf.
- Cool the turkey and cut half of the morels in half lengthwise.
- Soak the gelatin in ice water. Meanwhile, reduce the cooking liquid to 1 cup, strain through cheesecloth, then whisk in the gelatin sheet until dissolved and let cool to room temperature. You can check to see if it is gelling by putting it in the fridge for a while, if it is not gelling to your liking, simply heat, whisk in some more gelatin, then chill again.
- Remove the turkey meat from the bone, making sure to avoid any pin bones.
- Mix the turkey with salt and pepper to taste. Then mix in a stand mixer with 1/4 cup butter or lard, until nice and creamy, if you want it creamier, you can add more butter. Chop half of the morels finely and then add to the mixture.
- Pack the rillettes into a crock or mold, Chill until very firm.
- Lastly, place the morels in your crock over the turkey rillettes, then pour the gelatinized stock over them then refrigerate and serve.
- Make sure to allow the rillettes to come to room temperature before serving, otherwise they may be a bit stiff.