Regular readers of Saucy Dressings will know that I’m a regular visitor to Hamburg – so regular in fact that I have a ‘regular’ AirBnB fixed up for a monthly stay. But sometimes I’m just there on a flying visit, and on one happy occasion I was treated to a night in Hygge – a hotel which lives up to its name, bedecked as it is with sheepskin and candles, and with a restaurant serving fabulous comfort food to match.
There are always comfortable classics on the menu – Wiener Schnitzel, Roastbeef-Stulle, and Kaiserschmarrn – to name but a few. But head chef, Thomas Nerlich, also rings the changes frequently with seasonal, country-style dishes. I was very tempted by the beetroot risotto with apricots, sheep’s cheese and blackberry balsamic vinegar. But in the end I tried Nerlich’s pasta with a wild morel sauce and it certainly hit the spot.
This is my attempt to recreate it. As we are coming up to morel season (March to May) I am using morels; but an alternative is to use whatever wild mushrooms you can get hold of, and supplement with dried morels – Vigorous Mountains and Hatton Hill both supply good quality specimens.
Recipe for a happy, hygge wild mushroom and morel sauce for pasta
- 75g/½ cup frozen peas
- a couple of walnuts … or more of butter
- 110g/4 oz/about eight medium morels (or that amount of mixed wild mushrooms and add four or so dried morels, soaked for an hour or so in milk, drained, and roughly chopped)
- 1 banana shallot
- 120 ml/½ cup of crème fraîche
- 60 ml/¼ cup of dry, nutty, sherry (or dry vermouth)…. or, richer and darker, armagnac
- a few sprigs of thyme
- smoked salt and a pinch of Urfa pepper flakes
- serve with pasta….tagliatelle ideally
- Measure out the peas, and leave to slowly unthaw.
- Peel and chop the shallot and fry gently in a medium frying pan until translucent.
- Meanwhile, sand and grit collects in the frills of the morels (if you are using fresh ones) so wash them in a bowl of water and dry them in a salad spinner. Cut them, lengthways, into four. Add to the shallot… you may need to add a bit more butter. Season the lot. Add the thyme leaves. At this stage you may be thinking about cooking your pasta.
- Add the peas, and cook until unthawed completely, stirring every now and then.
- Add the sherry, vermouth, or Armagnac, and cook off the alcohol.
- Lower the heat, and add the crème fraîche. Heat through.
- Serve on top of the pasta, and enjoy!