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ROASTED CHICKEN with SPRING MORELS and ASPARAGUS SERVES 6
Adapted From the Loaves & Fishes Cookbook, Portland OR

Spring is a wonderful season to highlight the NW's spring treasures... wild morel mushrooms and tender asparagus spears. Here is a perfect meal to enjoy to welcome spring and still provide cozy comfort on a chilly evening....

INGREDIENTS

1 lb fresh morels, rinsed clean (or substitute 1oz dried morels, soaked 30 minutes in 3 c very hot water if need be)
6 boneless chicken breasts, free range &/ organic if available
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
all-purpose flour for dredging
1/4 c clarified butter
1/3 c chopped shallots (2 large)
1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 c madeira wine
1 c creme fraiche
1 c heavy cream
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, minced fine
1 1/2 lbs fresh asparagus spears, washed and bases snapped off for service
1 Tbsp olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

* Cut large mushrooms in half if desired. If using dried mushrooms: Lift the morels carefully from the hot water to leave any grit behind in the liquid. Rinse to be sure all the grittiness is gone. Discard the liquid and dry the morels lightly with a paper towel. Set aside.
* Sprinkle the chicken with salt & pepper. Dredge breasts in flour and shake off the excess. Heat half the clarified butter in a large saute pan and cook the chicken in batches over medium low heat until browned both sides, 8-10 min. Remove to ovenproof casserole, sprinkle with rosemary.
* Saute the shallots, morels & garlic in remaining butter over medium heat for 2 minutes, tossing and stirring constantly. Pour the madeira into the pan and reduce the liquid by half over high heat, 2-4 min.
* Add the creme fraiche, heavy cream, lemon juice, 1 tsp salt & 3/4 tsp pepper. Boil until mixture starts to thicken, 5-10 min.
* Meanwhile preheat oven to 475 degrees.
* Toss asparagus with olive oil and generously salt and pepper spears. Pre-roast about 6 minutes. Set aside to be finished later. Decrease oven to 375.
* Pour the sauce over the chicken and bake for 12 min, or until chicken is heated through.
* Put asparagus back in the oven for the last 5 minutes or so with the chicken to complete. (If you are fortunate to have 2 ovens you can just roast asparagus in 2nd oven at 475 for 10 min total.)
* Plate asparagus and top lower 1/3 with the breast and spoon sauce over the meat.

Serve & Enjoy