Morels have to be washed. They are full of grit, and without giving them a good cleaning you may as well eat sand. But here is the good news: typically get mushrooms wet and they go bad faster, about morels is they can stand a little water. That said, they need to be dried before cooking; otherwise, they exude tons of water, steam, shrink up to nothing, and go limp. What you ultimately want from a morel is a crispy brown mushroom that has soaked up butter and the flavor of any aromatics you might have added to the sauté pan. I always store mushrooms in a salad spinner set in the fridge. In the case of morels, I always leave the top off and use the automatic defrost that all modern fridges have to dry them out overnight; it is worth the wait. I really like a carbon steel French style sauté pan for this recipe because it gets blazing hot very quickly. Turn on you hood vent. —thirschfeld
A fistful of asparagus stalks, stalk end trimmed and peeled to rid it of any tough exterior
or so morels, rinsed and dried per the headnote
1 1/2 tablespoons
1/4 to 1/3 cups
breadcrumbs (I like Ian's gluten-free panko crumbs)
flat-leaf parsley leaves: half of them minced, and the other half left whole
tarragon leaves: half minced, and the other half torn in half
Have all your ingredients prepped and on a sheet tray next to the stove.
Place a 10-inch pan over high heat. Once the pan is hot, add enough grapeseed oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the asparagus. The idea here is to cook the asparagus just through, but get the stalks seared. The oil should begin to smoke a little. You shouldn have wisps of smoke coming from the pan; the smoke shouldn't be rolling off. Season the asparagus with salt and pepper. When they have finished cooking, remove them to a plate. Keep them warm in a low oven or close to the stove.
Add half the butter to the pan and quickly sear the morels until they begin to brown. Add the shallots and garlic. Stir and sauté until fragrant. Don't let the garlic brown, or it will be bitter.
Add the remaining butter and half of the herbs, and toss. Season with salt and pepper, then add the bread crumbs. Toss again. Let the breadcrumbs toast.
Place the morels onto the asparagus, then top with the bread crumbs and the remaining herbs. Serve.