Author: Stewart Turner
Nothing shouts spring like wild garlic, and when we first see it arrive in the kitchen we know that a new culinary season is upon us, long lush leaves with that unmistakable garlic scent. Unlike common cultivated garlic, it’s the leaves that are eaten rather than the bulbs. The taste is more delicate too, similar to the flavour of chives. It can be sweated and served like spinach or made into soups or pesto.
Another of the joys of spring is the mighty morel – which some would say is the king of the wild mushroom (although for me that honour has to go to the cèpe). These little beauties are great, and as we enter the season proper they can be enjoyed without the need to re-mortgage. The final element of our trio of luscious spring treats is English asparagus – probably our greatest seasonal product, which is envied the world over (and rightly so: no other compares in look or taste). It’s only around for a couple of months so fill your boots while you can.
6 free range chicken suprêmes
500g wild garlic
300g fresh morels
30 spears of new season asparagus
100ml white wine
Salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, split
4 sprigs thyme
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Heat an ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat; season the chicken breasts with salt and freshly ground pepper, then place, skin-side down in the pan. Cook until the skin is golden-brown. Turn the chicken breasts over and colour on the other side – when nice and golden, turn again so they are skin side down. Now add a couple of cloves of split garlic and thyme sprigs and transfer to the oven to cook for 7-8 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked. Remove from the oven, discard the thyme and garlic, transfer to a plate and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Return the pan to the stove, add another splash of oil and fry the wild garlic until it has wilted. Remove this to the same plate as the chicken, then return the pan to the heat. Heat another glug of oil and fry the morels with a good knob of butter over a high heat until lovely and golden. Add the wine and boil until it’s reduced by two thirds. Add the cream and reduce again to a nice saucy consistency.
While making the sauce, cook the asparagus in plenty of salted boiling water until just tender. Drain and place on a large serving platter. Now arrange the chicken and wild garlic on top, pour over the morel cream and serve.
Make sure you invest in some decent chicken: no produce has suffered so much from over-production as the humble chicken. However, there are still some birds out there with the sort of flavour that will knock your socks off which are very far removed from the soft, tasteless protein that seems to pass for the majority of chicken these days. These fantastic spring ingredients deserve the best.