Monday, May 25, 2009
Can you spot the morel? Yeah, they’re incredibly hard to find among all those pinecones. We recently went morel hunting, and we found one—count ’em—one single morel for all our efforts. Hardly enough for dinner, but I did add it to a gratin of Creamed Leeks. It’s one of those things, experienced mushroom hunters always keep their foraging spots closely guarded secrets, so we’re just guessing where and when to go. But luckily my morel cravings didn’t go unsatisfied for long—what I didn’t find in the woods, I found at the farmers market.
By the way, morels and asparagus are a perfect springtime pairing.
Seared Rib-Eye Steaks & Steamed Asparagus with Morel Cream Sauce*
2 1 to 1 ¼-inch thick rib-eye steaks
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces morel mushrooms, sliced into bite-size pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine
¼ cup beef broth
½ cup heavy cream
2 sprigs thyme
1 pound asparagus, trimmed of woody ends
Season the steaks generously with salt and pepper and set aside at room temperature for about half an hour.
Heat a medium, heavy sauté pan over high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the steaks and cook without disturbing for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they release from the pan and are crusty and brown. Using tongs, turn the steaks and continue to cook over high heat another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the desired doneness. Moisture will just begin to accumulate on the surface of the steaks when they are medium-rare. Remove the steaks to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the morels to the pan, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and sauté another 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the wine and simmer for a minute or so, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a heat-proof spatula. Add the broth, cream, and thyme and simmer another 6 to 7 minutes, or until thickened and saucy. Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus in a large pot of boiling, salted water for 3 to 4 minutes, or until tender (but do not shock). Using tongs, transfer the asparagus to a paper towel-lined plate and drain for about a minute. Discard the thyme from the sauce, stir in any accumulated juices from the steaks, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange the steaks and asparagus on individual plates, divide the sauce among them, and serve immediately.
Serves 2 to 4. Fresh morels only appear in the spring, so make the most of their fleeting season while you can. The sauce is plate-licking good—my husband proved it—and also fantastic with seared salmon.
*For everything you ever wanted to know about searing, plus dozens of fabulous searing recipes, look for my book Seared to Perfection in stores in the fall of 2010.
And just in case you didn’t find the morel, it’s right there.