|Behold that giant morel in the middle!|
Given that I adore mushrooms of all types, this was a dream iron-chef-style challenge. For my first dish I wanted to do something simple but elegant that would really highlight the flavor of the wild mushrooms. I started by reconstituting the lobster mushrooms, porcini, and morels following the easy directions from Marx: reconstituting dried mushrooms. After they were hydrated I ran the soaking liquid through a fine sieve to remove any grit, saved a bit for the dish, and put the rest in the freezer to use as soup stock in some future recipe.
To make sure the mushrooms were nice and tender, I sliced them into ribbons and then put them in a pan with a half cup of the strained soaking liquid and let them simmer for about ten minutes, or until the liquid cooked off. I set those aside to cool and then I made the simple chive oil. For this I took a half-cup of chopped fresh chives and put it in the blender with a half cup of walnut oil and a pinch of salt, then blended until smooth. You can use any type of oil you like here, but I like the mild, nutty flavor of the walnut oil. After blending, refine the oil by letting it drip through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl–or use it as is, if you prefer. This will keep in the refrigerator for a week, and it makes a beautiful garnish for soups.
To make the crispy shallot garnish I thinly sliced four medium shallots (you want about a half cup, sliced) and cooked them in some olive oil until they were crispy and brown:
Drain the browned shallots on paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt–they will crisp up as they drain (do this, and you will never buy those canned onions again…).
For the individual flans I buttered the interiors of four 8-ounce ramekins and divided the mushrooms between them. You want to cook these in a water bath, so pick a pan that they will all fit into with some room for a half-inch or so of water:
Next I whisked together 3 large eggs, 2 egg yolks, 1 cup of heavy cream (come on, live a little), a scant half teaspoon of sea salt, and a good pinch of ground white pepper. Divide the custard mixture evenly over the mushrooms:
Pour a half inch or so of hot water around the ramekins, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the outer edge comes out clean. Carefully pull out the pan (sloshing that hot liquid is a bad idea) and let the ramekins cool for a few minutes before you run a sharp knife around the edges to invert onto serving plates. Garnish the tops with the crispy shallots and drizzle a little of the chive oil around the edges:
These tasted fabulous, and they would make an excellent starter for a multi-course dinner, or an entree with a nice mixed green salad on the side. Notes on this recipe: if you are fat phobic you can certainly substitute half and half or even milk for the cream, but the texture will suffer. Splurge a little!
Thanks for reading,