Hunting Morels PART 2
Now you found some Morels! What do you do with them?
Have you heard that you should never run water over mushrooms? I disagree. The depressions that create that famous look (and hold butter and seasonings so well!) also hang onto sand and grit. My technique is simple but a bit time consuming. I take the mushroom in one hand with a very soft bristle toothbrush in the other. While holding the mushroom under moderately running water I gingerly “scrub” the cap—the key word is “gingerly”. I then slice the mushroom in half and do the same for the hollow interior where you may also find occasional bugs, snails and even an occasional tiny toad (yes I have!). Set the mushrooms, exterior down, on paper towels and allow to air dry before refrigerating or cooking. If you do refrigerate them, take a paper towel and saturate it with water and then ring it out as completely as possible so that it is now simply damp. Drape the paper towel over the mushrooms and put it in the refrigerator without a cover in most any container. Since we are not covering the mushrooms they will have plenty of air exchange and utilizing a plastic bowl or container is acceptable in this case.
Now you’re all set! If you are new to this mushroom, try a simple dry hot pan for a minute or two while it sweats off much of its moisture (I pour this off and keep it for stock). When you notice the liquid is nearly gone, add a touch of butter to your pan– and a bit of garlic and/or shallots if that’s your thing. The cooking process needs to be complete—be very sure that they have cooked through (perhaps 6-8 minutes on a medium high heat).
Many people like to bread them a bit using breadcrumbs and even an egg wash and they, of course, pair well with most any red meat dish and are especially good in pastas and soups. To be honest, I have yet to find something they weren’t “good” in.
In closing, it should go without saying that if you are new to this, you should not consume any mushroom that you are not completely 100% certain is a Morel. There are look-alikes. One of these, Gyromitra esculenta, contains a compound called monomethylhydrazine. Although some people do consume this mushroom—it is at their own peril and ingestion of monomethylhydrazine, especially over a period of time, can result in DEATH. If you are remotely in doubt, throw it out.
Would you like to learn more, or become certified, in identifying the morel and many other wild Minnesota mushrooms and foraged foods like ramps, watercress and more? You can sign up for one of Gentleman Foragers classes at the link below!
And don’t forget our Foraged Foods May 20-22, an unforgettable experience!
Mike Kempenich, Gentleman Forager
THANK YOU, Mike, for being a fabulously informational guest blogger! From all of us at Sturdiwheat 🙂 We love wild mushrooms, ramps and other foraged things on a rustic and delicious Galette crust. Click HERE for some of our recipe ideas.