6.08.2011

Morels - Repost to Archive

Yellow Morel Mushroom - Wisconsin
photography by TAGilephotos
 Morel season.  A friend called me up the other night and asked if I wanted a bucket of Morels.  I quickly said yes.  I have fond memories of escaping the house to the woods across the street and hunting for morels for my mother.  The forests near my childhood home were full of Elm and Ash trees and in the spring, she would send us out for a hunt.  (I don’t know if that is because she really wanted the mushrooms or if she wanted us out of the house?).  We would come home with a few buckets full of the mushrooms and she would fry them up.    My husband has similar memories of eating the great wild mushrooms also as a child.  For those of you in and near Wisconsin, this last weekend was Morel Mushroom Festival in Muscoda WI, the morel capital of Wisconsin.

Now my friend wanted to know how to cook them and I thought, what a great idea for the What is… for this week.   Here is the Midwest (where one half of the Plucky Housewives resides), morels are plentiful.   I am not one to try and redo what has lready been well-done, so I will point you in the direction of a great photo article in Field and Stream that really goes through the how to hunt and cook morels.    In quick summary, they are most commonly found in the Midwest/Great Lakes regions, early spring (April to May) near ash, sycamore, dying elm, cottonwoods and apple (look near an old, abandoned apple orchard).  Right now, its later in the spring, so they will be tall.  The first early crop they are pretty tiny and easy to miss.   Pick them before they edges start to dry and turn brown.  Finally BEWARE of false morels.  If it doesn’t look like the picture, chances are its not a morel and you could get a really bad tummy ache.

The Great Morel  is a comprehensive website on all things morel.  Check it out!

Here are a few recipes.  ENJOY! 

Fried Morels

2 c of flour
1-2 T seasoning salt
2 t ground pepper
½ t salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 c of buttermilk
2-3 T butter or oil. 

Prepare mushrooms by removing stem, dirt and then splitting in half.  Avoid washing in water.  Edges of the mushroom are delicate and can easily break.  Mix flour and seasonings.  Place flour mix into a shallow bowl or pan.  Mix beaten egg with buttermilk in small bowl.   Dip mushroom half into wet mix and coat thoroughly.  Then dip into dry mix, making sure there is a flour coating on both sides.  Heat pan and melt butter.  When bubbly, place coated mushrooms into pan.  Brown on one side (about 2-3 minutes) and then turn, repeating the same.  Do not cook too long or get too dark.  The mushroom is delicate and will begin to break down.  Remove from pan onto a paper towel and enjoy!

Stuffed Morels
photography by TAGile Photos
Stuffed Morel Mushrooms

10-15 medium Morel mushrooms
1 lb of sweet Italian sausage
½ c onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
½ tp 1 c Parmesan cheese
2-3 oz goat cheese or cream cheese.  
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Melted butter seasoned with salt and pepper

Brown Italian sausage in a frying pan with the onion and garlic, until almost done.  Make sure it is finely crumbled.   Turn off the heat.  Mix in the Parmesan cheese, goat cheese,  salt and pepper. 

Stuff this mixture into the prepped whole mushroom caps.   Place mushrooms in a shallow baking dish.  Carefully brush the mushrooms with the seasoned melted butter.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes.