Notes: At the wine bar, this dish is served in a small cazuela (a Spanish earthenware casserole); we increased the portion to make a generous appetizer for four. Morel mushrooms are in season in the spring and early summer in the Northwest. If you can't find them, cremini mushrooms will make a different but delicious dish. And if you can't find Manchego cheese, you can use another sharp-flavored, aged white cheese, such as dry jack.
Sunset JUNE 2004
1. Trim and discard discolored stem ends from morels. Submerge mushrooms in a bowl of cool water and gently agitate with your hands to loosen any dirt. Drain, rinse thoroughly under running water, and gently pat dry. Cut mushrooms in half lengthwise (if using cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters).
2. In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallots and garlic and stir often until limp, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir often until juices released by mushrooms have evaporated, 5 to 6 minutes.
3. Add sherry and increase heat to medium-high. Boil until sherry is reduced by about half, about 3 minutes. Add cream and boil, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickly coats mushrooms and is reduced by about two-thirds, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Spoon mushroom mixture into a shallow 3- to 4-cup ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle top evenly with cheese. Broil 4 to 6 inches from heat until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Serve with toasted bread slices.
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