Getting Into Trouble in the AM
When Elizabeth Crouch of Marx Foods asked if I’d be interested in their upcoming Morel Mushroom Competition, I nearly spit out my plate of spam and baked beans. Kidding, you know I don’t eat mystery meat. But I was surprised, honored and incredibly excited. An opportunity to cook with 1 oz. of morels and a chance to win two pounds of fresh morels? Bring it on!
Rather than cook alone, I decided to call up my good friend and fellow cook-a-holic, Richard, for a sweet collaboration. Before he even knew about the competition, he said that he was hunting around Virginia for morels to make into a recipe to share as a guest spot on my blog. Imagine my surprise at hearing about these two morel offers at exactly the same time. Twas meant to be.
Richard’s initial thought was a butter shortbread with morels and a white wine sauce. And as an incredible homage to the season, he wanted to include violets as a garnish. I, myself, had been jonesing for creamy eggy goodness for a while, and wanted to do something involving either a poached or truffled eggs as a base for the morels. As true culinary scientists, we decided to make several bases for the morels and go with what tasted the best. The truffled eggs became our runner up, and this Maitake Mushroom Bread Pudding was the absolute winner. If you can believe it, there was a moment where Richard looked at me and said “Bread pudding AND a poached egg? That’s too rich.” To which his girlfriend Amy replied, “Really? YOU think that’s too rich?” I have to agree with her – Richard has been working copious amounts of bacon into recipes for as long as I’ve known him. At the end of the cooking action, we all managed a mere two or three bites before passing out over the luxurious combination of eggs, mushrooms and majesty.
This recipe, like the truffled eggs, is not challenging – it looks fancy but is completely doable. In fact, the hardest part is the grocery shopping. Pace yourself and enjoy the process, because nothing is really time-sensitive or requires you to rush. A good thing, because after a few bites of this bread pudding with ever so lovely butter poached morels, you’ll want to cozy up on your couch and just bask for a while.
Maitake Bread Pudding with Morel Velouté
3 c. of bread
1 1/4 c. of cream
1/8 tsp. of tarragon
1/8 tsp. of white pepper
1/8 tsp. of black pepper
4 tbs. of maitake mushroom duxelle
4 tbs. of butter
8 oz. of maitake or oyster mushrooms
1/8 tsp. of black pepper
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
1/4. tsp of tarragon
1 tsp. of salt
1/4 oz. of dried morels
1 c. of chicken stock
2 tbs of butter
2 slices of prosciutto
1 c. of dry white wine
1 shallot, chopped
2 tbs. of tarragon, chopped
2 tbs. of butter
2 tbs. of flour
2 c. of milk
1/3 c. of cream
pinch of black pepper
pinch of white pepper
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp. of salt
2 eggs, poached
Prep Your Morels
Bring your stock to a boil and plunk in your morels. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes or until mushrooms are puffy and lovely. Strain, making sure any grit is poured out with the chicken broth. Slice morels in half and sauté in a pan with 2 tbs. of butter on medium love until soft – about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
Melt butter over low heat in a skillet. When melted, crank up heat to medium and add your shallots and mushrooms. Stir gently to keep from sticking, and keep heat on the low side so as to not color the mushrooms. When veggies are tender, add black pepper, white pepper, tarragon and salt. Taste for seasoning and correct if necessary. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a medium sized casserole or small ramekins with cooking spray or butter (I used some el cheapo parchement rounds from Sur La Table for the version in the photo above). Place on a cookie sheet and set aside. In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with 4 tbs. of the mushroom duxelle. Split the mixture amongst the ramekins. Using the same bowl, beat the eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt, black pepper and white pepper. Pour the custard over the bread, pushing down on the cubes to make sure that they are all saturated with the liquid. Let sit for about 5 minutes and then gently push the cubes down a second time. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the center is no longer jiggly and the strata has puffed up like a soufflé. Set aside.
You can skip this step, my vegetarian darlings. Line a baking pan with foil and crank your oven to 450°. Lay prosciutto flat on the baking pan, making sure that the pieces aren’t touching. Place in the oven and bake until crispy and dark rose, about 10-12 minutes. Check once or twice to make sure that it doesn’t burn – there’s not much fat on the prosciutto so they can cook quickly depending on the thickness of the slices. Set aside.
In a small pot, add wine, shallots and tarragon. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until reduced to about 4 tbs. Strain and set aside to cool slightly. Melt 2 tbs. of butter in a pot on medium low. Whisk in the flour and stir until smooth and all incorporated – about 1 minute or so. Slowly add your milk in dribs and drabs, whisking to prevent lumps. Keep on whisking and crank the heat to medium to coax the sauce into thickening. When it gets lovely and creamy, pour in the heavy cream. Whisk and add the reduced wine, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, nutmeg and salt. Taste for salt and pepper and correct seasoning. Set aside.
I’m not going to ask that you go all traditional and poach your eggs like Jacques Pepin for this (with a crazy water vortex and a whole lot of talent), but if you are comfortable doing it this way, go right ahead. I use rubber egg poaching molds for this and float the molds in a covered pot of boiling water for 4-5 minutes for a runny, yellow center. The yolk makes all the difference.
Assemble the Work of Art
Grab some plates, remove the bread pudding from the molds and place down as your base. Top with a poached egg, being careful not to split the egg and let all the yolky goodness run out right away. Split the morels amongst the plates of eggs. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of velouté over the tops. Sprinkle the thyme leaves and the violets over the entire plate. Spear the poached egg with a shard of prosciutto right before you eat, thereby releasing the yolk into the velouté to make a rich sauce. Get someone to pat you on the back while you eat so your hands are free to dine away.
4 thoughts on “Maitake Bread Pudding with Morel Velouté”
This was sooo good! I just voted.
Katie, as usual, you rock my socks. And if this wins, you know who's going to help me eat the winnings…your MOM! Kidding, but not really. If your mom wants to come over for morels, she is welcome to.
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