Thursday, May 26, 2011

Creamy Asparagus Morel Sauce

Last weekend at the farmers market, Paul Lagreze had some morel mushrooms, which I have heard about but never had before. They were pricy by the pound, but they're light and, as a true wild mushroom, they are not that often seen by those of us who don't know where to find them ourselves. As I was buying them, someone asked Paul how to cook them, and he suggested sauteing in butter then making a cream sauce. Here's my take on that recommendation. Mushrooms and asparagus go together like they were made for each other. If you don't have green garlic, substitute ramps or shallots or a clove or two of mature garlic. And if you don't have morels, feel free to substitute any other flavorful mushrooms you can find.

Serve this over pasta or polenta or, if you like, over broiled chicken.

3 Tbsp butter (1 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp)
1 stalk green garlic, minced
1/4 lb morels, diced
1 1/2 lbs asparagus, tough ends snapped off, sliced in rounds
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk (ideally whole)

Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet. When it foams, add the garlic and saute for about a minute. Add the morels and saute for another 1-2 minutes, then add the asparagus. Saute for another 3-4 minutes, or until the asparagus is bright green and tender but not too soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly as it forms a paste and turns light brown in color. Slowly whisk in the milk, making sure to eliminate any lumps. Heat the milk until it just barely begins to simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (5-10 minutes). Turn off the heat and stir in the vegetables.

Makes enough to serve 4-6 over pasta or polenta.

1. Keep the asparagus in whole stalks and steam in separately until tender-crisp. Serve the sauce over the asparagus.
2. Instead of making a roux-based white sauce with milk, just stir cream into the vegetables.

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