Morel “Strudel” Kebabs and Vegetarian Plov

Posted by Florian in Meat, Recipes, Russian Food, Uzbek Food, Vegetables, tagged with , , , , , ,

Here’s a recipe I’d like to share before morel season is well and truly over! Morels are among my favorite mushrooms, and even if some species are more flavorful than others, they rarely disappoint when they’re bought fresh and handled properly. And with two elements each calling for a generous amount of these delectable fungi, my recipe gives you a double dose all in one plate.

First, there are the “strudel” kebabs, inspired by a recipe in Stalik Khankishiev’s Mangal cookbook. Mangal is definitely not Stalik’s best book. It’s pretty thin, and many recipes are just rehashes of dishes from the cookbook trilogy that made him famous. Some of the remaining recipes are available verbatim on his LiveJournal page, which sometimes even has more pictures! The strudel kebabs (called kebabs instead of shashlyk for reasons unknown) falls into the latter category; you can read all about it here. I’m always game for a new kebab/shashlyk idea, but I’ve got a few problems with this one as first presented. Calling it “strudel” is really a stretch: it’s just a thin piece of meat spread with some kind of compound butter, and then rolled — but, well, you don’t call jelly rolls strudels, do you? Then Stalik’s recipe recommends using butter mixed with truffle paste. Come on, Stalik! Truffle paste? Seriously? The overpriced mix of random mushrooms boosted with artificial truffle flavor? Is that really the best you can do, when Uzbek cuisine already uses other outstanding wild mushrooms like morels? When morels in Uzbek cuisine are used specifically because of their meaty taste? Doesn’t that sound like the perfect match for a kebab?

Morel "Strudel" Kebab and Vegetarian Plov
Even Chef Watson agrees…

Next, speaking of morels in Uzbek cooking, I’m serving a vegetarian morel plov on the side. There are quite a few recipes floating around for qo’ziqorin palov (mushroom plov in Uzbek), like this one. Especially with morels. Using a couple of appliances that you don’t find in the typical Uzbek kitchen, you can make an amazing plov in no time. Boost the carrot flavor with carrot juice, freshly made with a juice extractor (okay, okay, or get it store-bought). It beats truffle paste any day, Stalik. And follow Nathan Myhrvold’s suggestion in Modernist Cuisine at Home: cook the rice in a pressure cooker in a matter of minutes, for a result that surpasses the hour-long kazan method. Of course the classic Uzbek spices are still there, coriander seed and zira (wild cumin). I even found a source for wild cumin in North America! Sure, you could just serve the kebabs with the usual grilled vegetables, but this plov makes for a really great pairing.

Morel "Strudel" Shashlyk

Onion purée
Yields about 100 g (over 4 servings)

1 whole medium onion (about 200 g), skin on
25 g butter
salt
black pepper, ground

  • Place the onion in an oven dish, and bake in a 200 C / 400 F oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until tender when poked with knife. Let cool 5 minutes.
  • Peel the onion, coarsely chop, and transfer to a blender. Add the butter, salt, and black pepper, then process until smooth. Reserve.

Cooked morels and morel butter for plov
Yields 4 servings

20 g heavy cream
80 g butter, diced
120 g fresh morels

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Progressively whisk in the diced butter until homogeneous, then remove from the heat.
  • Carefully wash the morels under cold water. Chop about 1/3 of them, and keep the rest whole or halved, depending on their size.
  • Place the morels and butter mixture into a sous-vide pouch, vacuum-seal, then cook in an 85 C / 185 F water bath for 30 minutes.
  • Let cool and reserve.

Morel Plov

Plov base
Yields 4 servings

3 g wild cumin seeds
1 g coriander seeds
10 g canola oil
30 g morel butter (from sous-vide pouch)
2 peeled garlic cloves (about 8 g), thinly sliced
75 g peeled onion, thinly sliced
75 g peeled carrot, julienne
salt
150 g bomba rice
50 g raisins
100 g dry white wine
100 g carrot juice
100 g vegetable stock

  • In a pan over medium heat, toast the wild cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant, then reserve.
  • In the pot of a pressure cooker over medium heat, heat the canola oil and morel butter. Add the garlic, onions, and carrot, season with salt, and sauté until soft.
  • Stir in the rice, raisins, wild cumin, and coriander. Add the white wine, then bring to a simmer, and cook for one minute.
  • Add the carrot juice and vegetable stock. Cover the pressure cooker, bring to pressure, and cook for 4 minutes. Release the pressure (you can run cold water over the pressure cooker to help), and reserve. At this point, the rice should be parcooked.

Morel plov
Yields 4 servings

plov base
80 g onion purée
cooked morels and remaining morel butter
salt
black pepper, ground
about 50 g vegetable stock

  • Heat the pot containing the plov base over medium heat. Mix in the onion purée, the cooked morels, and the remaining morel butter. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the vegetable stock, and cook until the liquid is fully absorbed and the rice is tender, stirring occasionally. This only takes a couple minutes; add a little bit more stock if the rice isn’t fully cooked.
  • Serve immediately.

Morel Plov

Morel paste for kebabs
Yields about 4 servings

30 g heavy cream
150 g butter, diced
150 g fresh morels
3 g salt

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Progressively whisk in the diced butter until homogeneous, then remove from the heat.
  • Carefully wash the morels under cold water, then cut into medium dice.
  • Place the morels and butter mixture into a sous-vide pouch, vacuum-seal, then cook in an 85 C / 185 F water bath for 30 minutes.
  • Take the mixture out of the pouch and transfer to a blender. Add the salt, and process until smooth. Let cool, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Morel "Strudel" Shashlyk

Strudel kebabs
Yields about 4 servings

900 g beef tenderloin (in one piece)
12 g salt
black pepper, ground
morel paste

  • Cut the beef tenderloin lengthwise into 0.5-1 cm thick slices. Using a meat pounder, gently flatten the first and last slices in order to even out their thickness (the tenderloin being shaped like a log, these slices are going to be thicker in the middle). This gives you long rectangular slices of meat. Mine were approximately 28 cm x 8 cm.
  • Season the slices with salt and pepper on both sides. Spread each slice with a generous amount of morel paste on one side, then roll into a cylinder. Cut each roll in half crosswise (otherwise the pieces will be too large to easily fit on the mangal). Don’t worry if some of the morel paste leaks out, just leave it!
  • Place the meat onto wide skewers, piercing through all the meat layers (as shown in the picture below), and reserve.
  • Make a wood charcoal fire in a mangal, and wait until the flames have just died (see here for more detailed instructions). You want the fire to be pretty hot.
  • Grill the kebabs over the coals, turning frequently, and resting the meat once for a few minutes when half-way done. Since this is fillet mignon, I encourage you to cook the meat rare. Serve immediately.

Morel "Strudel" Shashlyk