Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Morel Bacon Chowder

Since moving to Nebraska and discovering morels, spring just isn't complete without some morel hunting. I had been moping around this spring because Rick and I moved about two hours south from where we were living in Norfolk. We ended up renting a cute farmhouse out in the country, which came to us by mere chance, right before we were about to sign a lease on another cramped apartment. It was a rush move. I was recently promoted to associate editor at NEBRASKAland Magazine and Rick was starting a new job at Bass Pro Shops. It's nice living out in the countryside, but it was a lot of work, which left no time for hunting of any kind. The house needed a lot of work when we got here. And it took us two U-Haul trips on our end

We've been absent because of the move and because we still don't have any internet. Please be patient-- we're still here, just been busy. Check back from time to time, or sign up for updates on the right to receive recipes by email. We are also looking to move our website soon to accommodate our new book, but we'll let you know when that happens.

Bekah hunting for  morels with her niece.
Back to the morels-- after I had resolved to not go mushroom hunting this year, my friend Bekah took me to her grandparents' property in northeastern Nebraska to pick some morel mushrooms after work one day. It was a beautiful property, the sun was shining and the ground was freshly moist with rain. A prime location for morels, Bekah found 12 pounds the weekend before and was kind to share your spoils with me. It was getting towards the end of the season in Nebraska, but I found about a pound, enough for two meals!

Here's a simple recipe, in case you're craving for something warm, creamy and savory. It's a basic chowder recipe. We hope many of you had the chance to look for mushrooms this year!

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Ingredients:  
- 6-10 4-inch morel mushrooms or equivalent
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 3 strips of thick-cut bacon, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 ribs of celery, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 1/2 cups of Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
- 32 ounces of chicken broth
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine
- 2 cups of half and half
- 3 tablespoon of corn starch
- 1 tablespoon of flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
- kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

1. Cut mushrooms into bite-size pieces. Run under cold water to wash away dirt and debris, then drain. 

 
2. Render fat from bacon over medium heat. Remove bacon pieces and set aside. Turn heat to medium-high and add mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Cook until mushrooms give up their juices and brown slightly. Remove mushrooms and reduce heat to medium.

Add butter, onion, celery, carrot and a pinch of salt, and sweat vegetables for 5-7 minutes. Do not burn.  
3. Add white wine to vegetables and allow it to reduce by half.

Next, add potatoes, the rendered bacon, cooked mushrooms, broth and water. Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until potato is cooked through. Then add chopped parsley. 
4. Heat half and half until steamy, but not boiling. Whisk in corn starch and try to get rid of as many lumps. Mix heated half and half mixture into soup. Simmer soup, uncovered, for another 15 minutes to allow it to thicken. 
5. Taste to check for seasoning. Add freshly cracked pepper. 
Serve with more fresh parsley sprinkled on top and crusty bread.

 




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