Talking with my good friend Ben, I just heard another great folk saying concerning Morchella esculenta, or morels, ” A bad day for morels is a good day for ramps.” Well we had a great day for morels, and a bad day for ramps (wild onions/leeks). We were down at my in-laws again and I came across these morels in almost the same spot as the first batch of mushrooms. One thing I have noticed with the morels so far this year is 1) they are coming early, and 2) they are tending to be slightly smaller than normal. I am writing this post on Saturday evening after a full day of decent rain. Tomorrow is also supposed to be rainy, so if by Monday or Tuesday we can warm up and get some nice sun, this next week could provide even more morels!
Following are some simple, but absolutely wonderful ways of preparing morel mushrooms.
Creamed Morels in Puff Pastry Start with diced onion and saute’ in butter until tender. Add chopped morels and keep cooking until those become tender. Add heavy cream to make a gravy, and salt and pepper to taste. Take the morel mushroom gravy and fill puff pastry cups and serve.
Saute’d Morels and chives with scrambled eggs Once again, start with melted butter and saute’ the morels until tender. Add fresh chives or green onions from the garden and saute’ briefly. At this point you could either scramble eggs into the morels and chives, or use the mix for a omlete filling, either way it will be wonderful.
A note on cooking with morels. Cleaning and washing the morels is important. Morels are hollow so it is easy for dirt and sometimes little critters to get inside them. Soaking the mushrooms in water with a little bit of salt is the way to go. Soak for about five minutes and then lightly wash them off. If you aren’t going to be using them right away, gently dry them off with a towel and store them in a bag in the refrigerator. Morels can also be dried. If you have a huge harvest and know you won’t eat them all fresh go ahead and dry them. Don’t wash them, and use wire racks to air dry. Give them a couple days to a week to dry. They will reduce quite a bit in size. You will know when they are dried. The dried morels can be stored in a zip lock bag or in a jar. To use dried morels, reconstitute them with boiling water. Garlic is a great addition to morels, but go light on the garlic. It is easy to over power the morel’s delicate flavor. Wine is also another great ingredient to use to help cook mushrooms. Be creative and cherish such a unique and delicious food as the morel mushroom! Cheers!