Morel mushrooms are prized for their deep, rich taste; their appearance in specialty markets is practically an announcement in Michigan that "Spring is here!"
So when I found some available recently, I bought a few. Just a few - they cost $50 per pound! But for a couple of judiciously-spent dollars, it's possible to splurge a bit on an extraordinary flavor accent.
I found some beautiful chicken thighs on sale, and I had some leeks and a splash of half-and-half loitering in my refrigerator; these inexpensive and ready ingredients combined with the few morels to make a simple but delicious dish.
The chicken, having baked in cream, is fork-tender. The sauce is luscious, and lets the leeks and the morels shine without either one overpowering any other ingredient.
This would be fabulous for brunch or for a simple weekend meal; it's ideal to serve for a romantic evening. Enjoy this truly delicious meal, and feel as though you're indulging in luxury.
Baked Chicken with Morels and Leeks
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 8" length of leek, ends trimmed. halved lengthwise, sliced thin
- 4 large morel mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 6 chicken thighs
Preheat oven to 375F.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and cook for 2 minutes, until softened. Add morels, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add half-and-half; cook for 2 minutes.
Melt remaining tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. Season chicken with remaining salt, then cook for 5 minutes per side until golden brown. Place chicken into a baking dish and top with cream sauce. Bake for 35 minutes until chicken is tender and sauce is bubbling.
Serve with rice, pasta or potatoes to soak up the creamy sauce. Serves 4-6.
(With many thanks to my friend and ex-sister-in-law Marjie for the beautiful blue ceramic trivet under the dish of chicken, which references the Dione Lucas Gourmet Cooking School Cookbook. Dione Lucas was a predecessor to, and influence upon, Julia Child; she was the first female graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and the first woman to be featured in a cooking show on television.)