12 dried morel mushrooms
1 cup chicken stock
4 tbsp butter
5 or 6 shallots, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cups button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup brandy
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts about 7 ounce each
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup Champagne or dry sparkling white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the morels in a strainer and rinse well under cold running water, shaking to remove as much sand as possible. Put them in a large heavy-based saucepan with the stock and bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand for 1 hour.
2. Remove the morels from the cooking liquid and strain the liquid through a very fine sieve or muslin-lined strainer and reserve for the sauce. Reserve a few whole morels and slice the rest.
3. Melt half the butter in a skillet over a medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes until softened, then add the morels and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 - 3 minutes. Season well with salt and ground black pepper and add the thyme, 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) 1/3 cup of cream and the brandy. Reduce the heat and simmer 10 - 12 minutes until any liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Remove the morel mixture from the skillet and set aside.
4. Pull off the fillets from the chicken breasts. (The fillet is the finger-shaped piece on the underside of the breast.) Wrap the fillets tightly in clear film and freeze, to reserve for another use. Make a pocket in each chicken breast by cutting a slit with a sharp knife along the thicker edge, taking care not to cut all the way through the meat.
5. Using a small spoon, fill each pocket with one-quarter of the mushroom mixture, then close and, if necessary, secure with a cocktail stick to hold the stuffing inside the chicken.
6. Melt the remaining butter with the oil in a skillet over a medium heat and cook the chicken breasts on one side for 6 - 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the Champagne or sparkling wine to the pan and boil to reduce by half. Add the strained morel cooking liquid and boil to reduce by half again.
7. Add the remaining cream and cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Season. Return the chicken to the pan with any juices and the reserved whole morels, and simmer for 3—5 minutes over a medium-low heat until the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a skewer.