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A good 20 minute scallopini should be in every cowgirl chef’s repertoire! This versatile recipe can either be made simply with grocery-store ingredients, or lifted to the sublime with the addition of foraged mushrooms and wild greens.
Morel mushrooms—perhaps the tastiest and easiest to identify of wild edible fungi—have been found in all 50 U.S. states and tend to appear when nighttime temperatures do not fall below 60 °F for three consecutive nights, anywhere from February to late June, depending upon where you live. They have a distinct conical shape and a honeycombed surface, and tend to fruit on well-drained ground around dead and dying elm, ash, or apple trees.
A true morel will have a hollow interior from the tip of the cap to the bottom of the stem. There are false morels, which are toxic, so please don’t eat anything based upon what you read here or anywhere else: Have an experienced morel hunter examine your first finds and always use a mesh bag for collecting, as each morel will shed millions of spores that will spread to make your morel honey-hole even more productive next year.
Morels have become increasingly available online, at sources such as ChoiceMorels.com for flash-frozen fresh morels and numerous sources for dried ones, so don’t let scarcity in the wild interfere with a show-stopping presentation.
Similarly, delightfully peppery watercress grows in the wild in all states except Hawaii, in clear, natural water sources such as springs and streams. Seek it out in locations where you know the water is uncontaminated by industrial or agricultural runoff and cut off the stems at the waterline so that the roots remain intact to continue producing. Happily, most grocery stores now carry watercress in their produce departments.
For best results, choose an un-oaked white wine for this dish, such as a Spanish Albariño, Italian Pinot Grigio, or French Viognier and avoid the “oaky” whites such as Chardonnay to make the light, bright flavors really sing.
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup morel mushrooms (can substitute a mild grocery-store variety, such as white button or oyster mushrooms), sliced
2 wild turkey tenders (can substitute domestic turkey)
1/2 cup organic all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon white pepper, or more to taste
1 lemon, halved
1/4 cup dry white wine
watercress or parsley, for garnish
Heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and lightly sauté the mushrooms for 2 to 3 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to transfer them from the pan to a plate, reserving the oil and butter in the pan.
Pound the tenders flat with a meat mallet or tenderizer so that they are uniformly about a 3/8-inch thickness, and pat them dry with paper towels.
Measure the flour, salt, and white pepper into a pie pan, tossing with a fork to blend, then dredge each tender in the mixture, turning to coat both sides.
Heat the sauté pan over medium-high heat, and when the butter and oil begin to bubble, add the tenders and cook for 5 to 7 minutes per side, until golden brown.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the tenders to the plate with the mushrooms. Juice one lemon half, add the juice and the wine to the pan, and return it to medium-high heat, scraping with a wooden spoon to incorporate the browned bits sticking to the bottom. Season to taste with salt and white pepper, and reduce the heat to low. Return the tenders to the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning once to warm through.
Transfer the tenders to a serving dish, top with the mushrooms, and pour the warm sauce over all. Garnish with watercress or parsley, and the other lemon half, thinly sliced.
Recipes, styling, and photo by Susan L. Ebert.