Now, I love mushrooms. I love 'em raw, stuffed, in pasta, soups, rice dishes, gravies.
And there sat that package of morels, staring at me accusingly because I was having trouble thinking of what to do with them. Maybe it's because I use mushrooms so often that I couldn't decide what to do with these. Everything I thought of, I'd done before. I wanted something new, inspired, different.
Yeah, that's where I was stuck.
I wanted to add the morels to a fish dish with citrus and capers. Or maybe with some chicken. But this was an appetizer contest, and I didn't want to simply make a teeny entree and call it an appetizer.
I love the combination of mushrooms and lemon. The lemon brightens the earthiness of the mushrooms and makes them more interesting.
After a lot of hemming and hawing and soaking of morels and tasting and fiddling, this is what I ended up with. It can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature. I don't think I'd actually serve it cold, but sneaking chilled leftovers from the fridge is completely understandable.
Morel Frittata Bites
Butter, as needed, for cooking
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 potato, thinly sliced
1/2 medium onion, large dice
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat about a teaspoon of butter in a frying pan. Slice two of the morels in thin rings, and fry them in the butter until they become crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Note: you'll need to test these as they cook to make sure you've reached the proper level of crisp. And then you'll snack on them absent-mindedly as you're making the rest of the dish. And then you'll think they'd be great on a salad. I'm saying you'll need about 2 for the recipe, but you might want to make more to account for, uh ... disappearances.
Chop the remaining morels roughly and add them to the pan (add more butter, if needed) cook until the morels soften to your preferred texture, then add the lemon juice. Continue cooking until just about all the moisture cooks off, then add the sour cream, a pinch of salt, and several generous grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine an cook just until heated through. Give them a taste. If you'd like more lemon, add it to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and have a rack in the upper third of the oven.
Meanwhile, in an ovenproof skillet on medium heat (I used a 10-inch cast iron skillet) melt about a tablespoon of butter and cook the onions until they begin to soften. Add the sliced potatoes and a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook until the potatoes soften but still are holding together.
Turn the heat to low.
Add a small pinch of salt to the eggs, beat to combine, and add this to the potato-onion mixture in the pan and stir to make sure the potatoes are coated in the egg, but making sure they stay at the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat to medium and continue cooking until the bottom is browned and the mixture is almost set. Place the pan in the oven to finish baking and to brown a little on top.
Remove the pan from the oven and use a small knife or spatula to loosen the edges of the frittata. Flip the frittata out onto a plate.
With a small biscuit cutter, cut small bite-sized circles from the frittata. (You can choose the potato side for the top, or the eggy side for the top - whichever looks more attractive to you) Top each circle with a small dollop of the morel/sour cream mixture, and garnish each with a bit of the crisp morel pieces. Serve warm or at room temperature.