Morel mushrooms and venison, bison, or beef are a marriage far more successful than most pairings between mushrooms and meat. This dish is simple, deep and delicious. But don’t skimp on the morels, or the quality of any ingredient: You will notice. You can sometimes find dried morels in supermarkets, or farmer's markets. You could also substitute shiitake mushrooms.
1cupdried morels, soaked in water for several hours, or about 2 cups chopped fresh morels
1cupvenison or beef stock or 1/4 cup demi-glace
1/2cupPort wine,or Madeira or Marsala or Amontillado sherry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a small saucepan, reduce the stock and the water you soaked the morels in over high heat until you are left with about 1/2 cup of liquid. Turn off the heat and set aside. Obviously skip this step if using fresh morels, and do not include the demi-glace, if using.
Take the venison out of the fridge and salt it liberally. Let it rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Chop the morels finely.
Heat a pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-high and place the fresh morels down on the pan to heat. They will release their water quickly. Let this simmer until the water is almost all gone, then add 3 tablespoons of butter and shallot. sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often. Remove and set aside. If you are using dried morels, you do not need to dry-cook them first.
Either wipe the pan down or use another one. Heat it over high heat for a minute or two and add the grapeseed oil. Heat this for 1 minute. Pat the venison dry with a paper towel and place it in the pan. Sear it for 3 to 4 minutes on one side, then flip. Let it cook through to your taste on the other side without flipping again. Look for about another 1 to 3 minutes, but I use the finger test for doneness. Remove meat from pan and set aside to rest.
OPTIONAL STEP: Roll the finished venison in morel powder or porcini powder as it rests, and grind some black pepper over it. Give it about 5 to 10 minutes, then slice into medallions.
Meanwhile, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and let it melt over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to combine to make a roux. Cook this for 2 minutes. Add the port wine and stir to combine. It will thicken immediately, and if it turns to a paste add the morel water-stock mix you reduced in step one. If it does not turn into a paste, let the port boil a minute, then add the stock or demi-glace. Add the morels.
Once the morels are heated through, lay the sauce down on the plates, then top with venison. Grind black pepper over all and serve at once.
You can double the amount of morels in this sauce and it will be even better.