Chicken Breast with Morels, Madeira Cream and Pilaf Rice
Updated: Jun 17
What a great days urban mushroom hunting on Sunday.. I yielded 30+ morel mushrooms with a good proportion of them of a good size. The Morel mushroom is an excellent eating mushroom and one I was eagerly waiting to cook..
There is a classic recipe for morels and that is to serve it with chicken breast and marsala with plenty of cream and butter, mine is a take on that but with madeira and served with a simple yet fragrant rice that shows off the flavour of the morels!! I always say this, but we are using so few ingredients in this meal that every ingredient should be of high quality – invest in the chicken breasts quality and be rewarded when you eat it!!
Why Madeira and Morels?
Madeira wine and morel mushrooms go well together due to the harmonious combination of their flavours, textures, and aromatic qualities.
Madeira wine is known for its rich, nutty, and slightly sweet flavor. When reduced and used as a sauce, it adds depth and complexity to dishes. Its distinctive taste complements the earthy and nutty flavour of morel mushrooms. The combination of the nuttiness from madeira wine and the unique flavour of morels creates a delightful balance.
Both Madeira wine and morel mushrooms contribute to the umami taste, which is often described as savory or meaty. Umami adds depth and enhances the overall flavour of this dish. Morel mushrooms naturally contain umami compounds, and when paired with Madeira wine, the savoury notes are further amplified. This results in a dish that is packed with umami.
In addition to their flavours, madeira wine and morel mushrooms have complementary aromas that make them an excellent pairing. Morel mushrooms have a distinct earthy, nutty, and slightly smokey aroma. Madeira wine, on the other hand, brings in hints of caramel, dried fruits, and toasted nuts. The perfect combination.
Chicken Breast with Morels, Madeira Cream and Pilaf Rice
15 or so morels small to medium in size (around 150g)
2 chicken breasts with skin on
2 medium onions
3 tbsp of madeira
200ml chicken stock
Cup of wholegrain rice
2 chicken stock cubes
1 tbsp butter
150ml double cream (55% less fat)
From the garden:
Small bunch of parsley
About a tbsp (total) of lemon and common thyme
2 or 3 bay leaves
You’ll need a saucepan for the rice and a frying pan to make the chicken and the sauce that will go in the oven.
Hey listen, if you haven’t been as fortunate as I have this trip (I am very used to not finding them!) and haven’t found morels you can simply use dried / bought morels just remember to soak them for 20 minutes in warm chicken stock and use the mushroom’y chicken stock to enrich the sauce at the end of the cooking.
Find out how to Grow your own Morel Mushrooms here.
This meal takes as long as the rice takes, to cook. I use whole grain so that’s about 30 minutes, but you can use whatever rice you would like (serves 2).
Get the oven on to 180 degrees.
In the saucepan that you are going to cook the rice in, add olive oil. Chop one of the onions and lightly fry with the bay leaves (add a little salt to the onions it helps them fry). When the onions are starting to become translucent fill the pot with boiling water from the kettle (however much you need to boil the rice) and add the two stock cubes a little more salt and the rice. Get a lid on it and let it gently simmer.
Next take the chicken breasts and season well, get the frying pan on the heat with a little more olive oil and when hot place the seasoned chicken breasts in skin side down. Cook the chicken until the skin is starting to go brown and crisp then flip the breast and cook the skinless side for a minute. Turn back over so the chicken is skin side down again in the pan and place in the over for 10 minutes.
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Whilst you have this break, chop the remaining onion and the morels. The morels should be chopped into halves and quarters (longways) depending on the size of the mushrooms (if fresh this is the time to check for anything that shouldn’t be near the mushrooms).
After 10 minutes have passed remove the chicken from the oven and place the chicken on a warmed plate (watch those fingers that handle will be red hot!!), then get the pan back on the gas. Place in the chopped onions, the thyme (also chopped) and the butter. This will roar for a few seconds but then settle down. Cook the onions but this time they will start to catch a little, this is all good! The onions fry, a few catch and the flavour of the sauce only improves!! Once they have just started to take a little colour on add the morels, fry for a minute or so and then add the madeira. Again, this will bubble away. Cook until the alcohol is gone (probably when reduced by half) then add the chicken stock and the cream. Again we are looking to reduce this by half but all the while you must have a wooden spoon in the pan scraping at the brown sweet flavour on the bottom the pan.
Now turn the oven onto grill..
Reduce the sauce by half, if it goes over and reduces to much add a little more chicken stock if not we are nearly there. Now place you chicken breasts skin side up back in the pan and poach for another minute or so until you are confident that the chicken breast is cooked. Nap the sauce over the chicken, when well coated place the pan under the grill. Leave oven door open (if there is room in your kitchen) whilst you drain your now cooked rice. Whilst the rice is draining (remember to reserve a little fluid), chop the parsley and stir it through the boiled rice removing the bay leaves.
Get two plates in the microwave to warm.
Keep an eye on your chicken as the cream sauce has potential to burn really quickly under a hot grill (you just want to brown the cream coating a little)…
Now we are ready to serve.
Serve a portion of the rice onto each of the plates, then put a chicken breast on each plate.. Then spoon the creamy mushroom sauce over the chicken breast and a little of the rich sauce over the rice.. Serve and eat immediately!
What I love about morel mushrooms is their pungent fragrance and strong flavour. The madeira is so perfectly matched to the mushrooms it feels like they were invented to be together. The thyme just brings the whole thing together with the creamy sauce adding luxury and almost a naughtiness.
These amazing flavours aren’t normally accessible to many and the rareness and excellence of some wild foods such as morels is what keeps me returning for more.
Stunning dish if you get fresh morels you must make it! Good luck with the morel hunts!!
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