wild morel mushrooms

I have a confession… before today I was a wild mushroom virgin.

I can no longer say that about myself…

I stopped at a friend’s house today for a brief visit and as she walked me out to my car she asked if I wanted some morels and we walked to her side yard. Under a pile of leaves I could see some heads of morels popping up! (They blended right in w/ the dead leaves – and I’m not even sure how she discovered them! But boy am I glad she did.)

As you can guess, I jumped at the chance of trying morels for the first time. I found a decent size mushroom and came straight home to do some internet research on what you need to know about cleaning, preparing, enjoying mushrooms… (Unfortunately I lost the stem on this morel … and lesson learned. I did not move the soil a tad to loosen up the dirt around the stem and it broke right off. Next time, next time…)

I use mushrooms in quite a few of my dishes… but I’ve always been a little scared of using wild mushrooms… not anymore! So I wanted to test these in a way I know other mushrooms. Since I know, very well, the taste of sauteed mushrooms (both button/white and crimini/brown I figured I should keep it simple and just saute these morels in a bit of butter). My logic told me that would be a fair taste test… without any crazy sauce or other ingredients to mask the flavor.

So, here goes nothing…

First you start by cutting them down the middle lengthwise… the tips I read online said that if there is no sight of decay or any pests then they are generally safe. However, if you’ve never had wild mushrooms they advise against eating large portions as some mushrooms can still have adverse effects.

If anyone knows Lori, they know that’s not going to slow me down much. So, I followed proper precautions and got to my experiment…

Next step… add a slab of butter to a hot saute pan.

Once the butter bubbles, add the mushrooms…

If the butter browns, reduce the heat and continue to saute. Toss the mushrooms around in the pan so they get coated with butter… inside and out all of those little crevices! Mmmm….

This small morel only needed about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes in the hot butter…

And with a few tosses it was ready to make it’s debut in Lori Jean’s kitchen.

Experiment Results
The color of the mushrooms darkened a bit, as other mushrooms do… and with butter dripping out of those crevices I couldn’t even wait to pull a fork out of the drawer. I just picked it right up with my fingers…

And… I have no words.

The flavor is intense… it got a little crispy all over (my theory on this is that there is less “meat” to the morel and so it didn’t need as much time to cook as “button” or “crimini” mushrooms). It also didn’t taste like any other mushroom I’ve ever tasted.

Wow… how can I get my hands on more morels?!

I immediately called my friend Debbie to ask when would be a good time for me to harvest more of the morels from her side yard! So, stay tuned… more morel ideas to follow in the next few weeks!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy morels?

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

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