Morel Mushroom Toasts
In the early days of the Café, a few hardy foragers would show up at the back door with baskets full of freshly picked mushrooms for sale. All the cooks would stop work to admire the mushrooms and banter about the best places to pick them, although no forager worth his salt ever told the truth about where to look. These days, even though the wild mushroom business has burgeoned, and mushrooms fly around the country on airplanes, it’s still exciting to see mushrooms at the back door—and we still have our favorite foragers. We serve wild mushrooms all year round—porcini in the winter, morels in the spring, and chanterelles in the summer and fall. A favorite way to cook them is in the wood-burning pizza oven. The wood smoke perfumes them magically and the intense heat captures all the juicy flavors. At home, you can improvise by roasting them next to a hot fire in the fireplace or outside, in a covered grill. Try these warm mushroom toasts for a savory first course, or served with a simple green salad for a fine lunch.
Cooking Methodbroiling, grilling, roasting
Total Timeunder 1 hour
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party
Recipe Courseappetizer, main course
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturecreamy, crisp, savory, umami
Type of Dishvegetable
- 2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon Cognac
- 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ cup creme fraiche
- 1 pound fresh morel mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh savory
- 3 cloves garlic, slice
- 4 slices rustic country bread
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Sauté the shallots in butter over medium heat until nicely browned. Add the Cognac and reduce for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and add the Champagne vinegar and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the crème fraîche and set aside.
Pick over the mushrooms, discarding any that are moldy and trimming the ends and any discolored spots. If the mushrooms are especially gritty, give them a quick rinse in a bowl of warm water and blot dry. Slice into ¼-inch pieces crosswise, or lengthwise into strips. Toss the morels in a bowl with the olive oil, thyme, savory, garlic, and salt and pepper. Transfer to an earthenware baking dish large enough to hold the mushrooms in one layer.
Roast the mushrooms, uncovered, until they are tender, about 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. By the end of the cooking, there will be lovely juices to incorporate into the sauce. Add the shallot mixture to the mushrooms, stir well, and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning.
While the mushrooms are roasting, brush the bread slices with olive oil and toast them over a fire or under the broiler. Spoon the mushrooms and sauce over the toasts and serve.
1999 Alice L. Waters