(Disclaimer – I love my mom. Dearly. And anything said here is said without any malice. She knows that. And will probably also agree with everything that follows. To some extent.)
She didn’t let us eat dirt. Or put things in our mouths after they’d fallen on the ground. In fact. I ‘m pretty sure she still carries around wet wipes with her. Just in case.
We were only allowed to ride our bikes up and down our block. Sure, there was a really cool hill on the next block over. (We’re talking a near 90 degree angle here. It was epic.) That all the neighborhood kids got to traverse for hours on end during the summer. (We could hear their screams of joy from our backyard. It was torturous.) But mom couldn’t see us from the kitchen window if we went over there. And the majority of kidnappings happen within a block of a child’s home. So we were s*** outta luck. (And everyone wonders why I didn’t learn to ride a two-wheeler until I was 12. Our block is as steep as the plains of Iowa. There was just no incentive.)
Then, of course, there were all the things we weren’t allowed to eat. Shellfish. Sushi. Any ethnic cuisine that takes its origins from a third world country. Beef or pork that doesn’t have the consistency of shoe leather (my mom still shudders when I order my steak medium-rare. Then again, I go ballistic when she orders it well done. So I guess we’re even.) Play-doh.
One thing that would definitely have been included on the eat-with-caution list? Wild mushrooms.
Never mind that they were hand-picked by experts in the field. And are eaten by thousands worldwide. Without repercussion. To err is to be human. Best not to take the risk.
Unless you are me, of course. A person who eats with reckless abandon. (Much to the disdain of my parents.)
So when I heard about the MarxFoods 2nd Annual Morel Recipe Challenge. I was all in. Never mind that I’d never had a morel before in my life. I walk on the wild side. (Get it? Wild side. Wild mushrooms.) Bring it on.
There were a lot of things I could have done with the morels. Risotto. Polenta. Pasta. All of the usual suspects. And when I googled morels looking for inspiration. These are what I found. The inspiration? Not so much.
So I thought about it some more. And eventually decided to make a savory cornmeal buttermilk waffle with a fresh tomato morel bruschetta.
That obviously didn’t happen.
Because I got distracted.
By these cute little butternut squash that were sitting on a table at my local farmer’s market. Winter squash goes really well with mushrooms. I thought. And so I brought it home.
Then. I was flipping through the April issue of Bon Appetit. Which mentioned something about a rhubarb chutney.
That was when everything clicked. And the butternut squash and morel chutney was born.
The earthy, smoky, complex flavor of the morels pairs really nicely with the subtle sweetness of the squash and the tartness of the cranberries that I used to flavor the chutney. All of which goes perfectly with a cumin and brown sugar dusted pork chop.
It kind of made me wish that morels were in season year-round. And also kind of inspired me to take up mushroom hunting. I may not be an expert. But having the ability to make this dish again. Is worth any risk associated with my lack of knowledge about how to differentiate a poisonous from a non-poisonous mushroom.
Butternut Squash and Morel Chutney
1 small butternut squash, a little less than 1 lb, chopped into small dice
1 oz dried morels, reconstituted in boiling water for 30 minutes, chopped
2 tbsp cranberry juice
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1. Heat a non-stick skillet and spray with cooking spray. Saute the butternut squash until it is just starting to get soft. Add in the morels and saute for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cumin and Brown Sugar-Dusted Pork Chops
4 pork chops
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
1. Preheat a grill or George Foreman. Combine the sugar and cumin. Sprinkle the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the sugar and cumin mix evenly over the chops.
2. Grill the chops until desired degree of doneness.
Top the chops with the chutney and garnish with some cilantro.
I am also submitting this to Weekend Herb Blogging which is being hosted this week by ProfKitty of The Cabinet of Prof. Kitty.
In other news. The Regional Recipes round-up is up over at the new Regional Recipes BLOG! This will be the new home of Regional Recipes.
Our destination for next month is Haiti so start thinking about what dish you want to make before the 30th!
Also. The winner of the CSN Giveaway is comment number 42 – Preeti of Relishing Recipes! Please email me your contact information at [email protected] so that your all-clad pan can be delivered to you ASAP!
AND check out my guest post being posted later today over at one of my favorite blogs – Very Culinary!