When this went into the oven, I was disappointed because the sauce really didn't taste very good. It took awhile to prepare and the ingredients are rather expensive. My concerns evaporated when it emerged from the oven--it was FABULOUS. The polenta soaked up the sauce and became creamy guyere grits infused with the mushroom flavor. I used shitakes (sauteed before going into the sauce) and it tasted great. It could only be better with morels. If the sauce is a bit runny going in as mine was, reduce the heat and cook it longer. I also added salt to the sauce. I used about 1/3 of a cup more guyere--I can't say enough about how creamy and flavorful it was! My fiance became completely quiet as he ate it and declared it better than any restaurant around. Here in DC, that's quite a compliment. This recipe's a little laborious, but a clear knockout.
Chicken, Asparagus, and Morel Casserole
Yield: Makes 8 servings
More From Sunset
Amount per serving
- Calories: 436
- Calories from fat: 43%
- Protein: 35g
- Fat: 21g
- Saturated fat: 11g
- Carbohydrate: 24g
- Fiber: 2.4g
- Sodium: 753mg
- Cholesterol: 124mg
- 1 ounce (about 1 1/2 cups) dried morel mushrooms
- 12 thin slices prosciutto (about 6 oz. total)
- 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dry sherry
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 packages (1 lb. each) prepared polenta
- 8 boned, skinned chicken breast halves (3 to 4 oz. each)
- 16 asparagus spears (about 3/4 in. thick), tough ends trimmed
- 1 cup shredded gruyère cheese
- 1. Place morels in a bowl and add 2 cups boiling water. Let stand until soft, about 15 minutes. Gently squeeze mushrooms in water to release grit. Lift from water and squeeze out most of the liquid. Set mushrooms aside. Without disturbing grit, carefully pour reserved soaking liquid into another container. Discard grit.
- 2. Meanwhile, cut 4 slices of prosciutto into thin slivers. In a 5- to 6-quart pan, stir slivers over high heat until crisp and lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from pan; when cool, wrap airtight and chill up to 1 day.
- 3. Add butter and shallots to pan. Stir over high heat until shallots are limp, about 2 minutes. Add flour and stir until light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in mushroom liquid, sherry, broth, and cream, then add morels. Stir often over high heat until sauce is reduced to 2 1/2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.
- 4. Cut polenta into chunks, then mash with hands or a potato masher until it's fine crumbs. Divide polenta evenly between 2 casseroles, each 3 quarts (about 9 by 13 in. and at least 2 in. deep). Press polenta into an even layer.
- 5. Lay a chicken breast half and 2 asparagus spears on a prosciutto slice and wrap to enclose. Place chicken, asparagus side up, on polenta. Repeat to wrap remaining chicken and asparagus, and space pieces evenly apart in casseroles. With a slotted spoon, scatter morels around chicken. Pour sauce equally over chicken in each casserole. If making ahead, cover and chill up to 1 day.
- 6. Bake, covered, in a 400° oven until chicken breasts are no longer pink in center of thickest part (cut to test), 30 to 35 minutes (35 to 40 minutes if chilled). Uncover and sprinkle with cheese, then prosciutto shreds. Bake until cheese melts, 2 to 3 minutes more. Serve with salt to add to taste.
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