Morels are the finest (and most expensive) wild mushrooms you can buy. They have a distinctive shape - like a partly unfolded umbrella — and are usually inky black. Perhaps of all the varieties of wild mushrooms you can buy dried, morels retain more of their vibrant flavour and texture when reconstituted.
A sauté is one of the most frequently used methods of cooking in the professional kitchen because a dish can be prepared to order in about half an hour. It is, in any case, an ideal method for cooking chicken. Use thighs and drumsticks for this dish as they have more flavour and are less prone to drying out.
Put the morels in the sieve and rinse them briefly under cold running water. Then soak them in warm water for half an hour. Take them out of the liquid and put to one side. Pass the liquid through a fine sieve (a tea strainer is ideal). This has excellent flavour and will form an integral part of the sauce • Peel and slice the shallots very thinly and put with the morels.
Put the sunflower oil and half the butter in the frying pan and put over a low heat.
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, rubbing well into the skin. Put the pieces into the pan, skin side down. Arrange the pieces so they lie flat but they can be quite tightly packed. Cook without touching them for 25 minutes. Turn over (the skin should be crisp and golden) and cook for a further 10 minutes. Test that the juices run clear with a skewer, then take the chicken pieces out and reserve in a warm place.
Pour all fat out of the pan but do not wash it Turn up the heat a little and add
Add the cream and simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, skin side up. Lower the heat and warm through for 10 minutes.
Serve immediately with mashed potatoes or plain boiled Basmati rice.
© 1993 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.