My brain almost goes in tilt over the amount of fresh local produce available at this time of year. Every day, I have foragers and farmers knocking at my door with their offerings: It's difficult to narrow them down to what I actually want to use on any given night.
In particular, with the summer almost over and cooler nights ahead, I am preparing myself for the bounty of wild mushrooms coming from all parts of the country.
Fortunately, we have a lineup of suppliers from both coasts that bring us the freshest and most interesting mushrooms: chanterelle, porcini, hen of the woods, blue foot, lobster mushrooms, cauliflower mushrooms. And, of course, morels.
When our mushroom supplier arrived with a fresh supply of morels, it wasn't a question of whether we were going to buy them so much as how much we would buy. We bought the whole case.
Today's recipe travels this great nation to create a bit of joy on my plate: wild forest mushrooms from British Columbia, creamy pureed Ontario corn soup and Quebec foie gras.
Stuffing foie gras into morels is something I have done often in my cooking career. You could just serve them with some buttery leeks, as an amuse-gueule or appetizer, but adding the creamy corn soup actually rounds off the flavour in a richer way.
I like to use a foie gras terrine for this recipe so I do not have to fiddle with raw liver. I find it much easier to keep some foie gras au torchon in the freezer, but fresh foie gras works just as well.
Just make sure you don't overheat the foie gras or it will become a greasy mess.
Foie-gras-stuffed morels and Ontario corn soup
Ontario corn soup
3 cups sweet corn kernels (save the cobs for extra flavour)
2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons for finishing
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 cup onions, chopped
1 cup leeks, chopped
1 cup vegetable broth or chicken stock
1 ½ cups homogenized milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut each cob in three pieces and set aside.
Preheat a stockpot and add the butter, garlic, bay leaves, onions and leeks. Cook until translucent. Add the corn kernels and the cob pieces, then the stock and milk. Season with salt and pepper.
Simmer about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the cobs and the bay leaf. Simmer the rest of the corn for another 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature before placing the soup in a blender. Puree as fine as possible and strain in a fine mesh strainer to remove as much debris as possible. Add 2 tablespoons of butter for a creamy soup that's not too dense.
½ teaspoon butter + 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons shallots
¼ teaspoon fresh thyme, rubbed
½ teaspoon chives, chopped
¼ teaspoon chervil, chopped
1 tablespoon Panko breadcrumbs
4 ounces fresh foie gras or foie gras terrine
Salt and pepper to taste
12 large, firm, fresh morels, brushed
½ ounce brandy
Preheat a frying pan and place 1/2 teaspoon of butter in it. Add the shallots and all the herbs. Cook for about 30 seconds, until the shallots are translucent.
Put the breadcrumbs in the pan and remove from the heat. Add the foie gras (or terrine, which is available in many fine-food stores) and salt and pepper and, using a fork, mix well to create a stuffing.
Taste for correct seasoning and use the stuffing to fill the morel mushrooms. (You can use a disposable plastic piping bag.)
Preheat a frying pan and add 2 tablespoons of butter.
Once melted, add the stuffed mushrooms and cook on all sides over a gentle heat. Sprinkle with the brandy and flame away the alcohol. This whole operation should take about three to four minutes.
Place the morels into the soup and serve.
Beppi's Wine Matches
White Burgundy would be my top choice for this rich, earthy soup. Look preferably for a fuller-bodied style, such as Meursault. Another good choice would be an oak-aged chardonnay (that's the grape in white Burgundy, after all) from California, Australia, Chile or Canada. Other good options: off-dry riesling or a medium-sweet amontillado sherry.
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