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Morel, Asparagus, and Fiddlehead Gratin

Renowned Traverse City Chef Pete Peterson shares some of his favorite spring recipes with Traverse food and wine editor Tim Tebeau for the May 2016 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 4 cups small fresh morels* (or 2 ounces reconstituted dried morels)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/3 cup Madeira
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 ounces thin asparagus, in 1 1/2 inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 ounces fresh fiddlehead ferns, trimmed and cleaned
  • 1/2 cup fresh, firm white bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

Preparation

Remove the stems from the mushrooms, and reserve for another recipe. (Reconstitute dried morels in hot water for about 30 minutes.) Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet and add the mushrooms and shallots; sauté for about five minutes until wilted but not browned. Add the garlic and sauté for two more minutes. Add the cream and Madeira and simmer over medium-low heat for five minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the sauce and reduce liquid until it lightly coats the back of a spoon; then stir the mushrooms back into the sauce; season with salt and pepper.

Blanch the asparagus and fiddleheads in boiling salted water for three minutes. Drain and rinse them with cold running water to stop the cooking, then drain well.

To make the seasoned crumbs, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, Gruyère cheese, basil and thyme and mix thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To assemble the dish, divide the blanched asparagus and fiddleheads among six small heat-proof casseroles (alternately, the gratin can be presented in a single larger baking dish). Spoon equal-size potions of the morel-cream over the asparagus and fiddleheads and top with the seasoned crumbs. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, and, if desired, place under a broiler until the top is light brown. Serve immediately.