Chicken’s mild taste is excellent for showing off the earthy taste of morels and the addition of tarragon brings out the flavour in the chicken.
Morels have a short season from (in a good year) March to May. They are not easy to find, but you can sometimes find them round scrubby woodland, waste ground or even in gardens. They are poisonous raw, but perfectly safe when cooked. They can also be bought on some markets. Although they are expensive to buy, you don’t actually need many and, to put the price in context, a portion costs less than a pint of beer.
With a little bit of good fortune tarragon will be beginning to show its face as the last of the morels fade away for the year. It makes for a delicious spring combination and a real party treat fit for any occasion.
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 60 minutes
Total: 70 minutes
• If you can’t find fresh morels it is fine to use dried. Simply allow them to soak for 20 minutes in hot water and then drain thoroughly.
• If you want to cut down on cream, use white wine instead.
• If you increase the quantities, be sure to fry the chicken in batches.
50-70 g (2-3 oz) morels
2 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 pieces of chicken, skin removed
1 tsp finely chopped tarragon, optional
300 ml (1¼ cups) chicken stock, made with a bouillon cube
35 g (1¼ oz) shallots, peeled and finely chopped (2-4 shallots)
4 tbsp double (heavy) cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp dry sherry
1. Cut the morels in half lengthways and then brush clean. Try and avoid washing them but if you do need to pat them dry afterwards.
2. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F, gas 2, fan 140°C).
3. Mix the flour and seasoning on a large plate.
4. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan (skillet). When hot dip both sides of each piece of chicken in the seasoned flour and then fry for about 4 minutes on each side until nicely coloured.
5. Place the chicken pieces in an ovenproof dish and pour half the chicken stock over them. Add the tarragon. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes, removing the foil for the last ten minutes.
6. After 20 minutes, melt another tablespoon of butter in a frying pan (skillet) and fry the morels and shallots for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
7. Pour in the other half of the chicken stock and simmer gently.
8. When the chicken is cooked, pour the stock from the chicken into the pan with the morels and return to a rapid simmer for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile cover the chicken with foil again and leave it somewhere warm to relax.
9. Add the cream, lemon juice and sherry to the morel mixture. Let the sauce simmer gently for about 5-10 minutes until it has a nice consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more sherry or lemon juice if desired.
10. Whilst the sauce is simmering, carve the chicken into slices. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve with rice.
Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.