Here's how to cook those fresh morels this spring.
Spring is officially here, and we can't think of a better way to get outside and enjoy nature than by seeking out fresh morel mushrooms. Not only are they challenging to find, but they're also fantastic table fare. They're way better than anything you can get from a grocery store.
There are plenty of articles out there focused on how to find wild mushrooms. We have plenty of those here at Wide Open Spaces.
Today, we're going to focus solely on how to prepare and cook morel mushrooms. Like any sort of food, there is no one way that is better than others. Here are just a few suggestions we've rounded up.
How to prepare morel mushrooms for cooking
Once you've had a successful morel mushroom hunting trip, it's time to prep them for cooking. You really shouldn't just throw them directly in the pan. You're going to want to clean them up of mud, dirt and debris. Morels have plenty of nooks and crannies that can hold all kinds of nasty surprises, so be thorough. Cleaning morels will also gives you another chance to verify what you've found is the genuine article and not a false morel.
At the very least you should wash the mushrooms off with water or wipe them with a damp paper towel. Some people like to run them under the faucet quickly. Others prefer to soak the raw morels overnight in salt water to prep them. Whatever you do, just make sure the morels are clean before you go any further. This is important to do even if you're going to rehydrate some dried mushrooms.
Speaking of cleaning the debris, it can't hurt to slice the morels open at this point. Remember, morels have a hollow interior and sometimes insects and slugs like to take up residence inside. No one wants to eat those. We do know some people like to prepare their morels whole, just make sure you're cleaning the interior before you do that. Shine a small light inside to make sure they're clear. With that out of the way, let's talk about some of the ways to cook them.
How to fry morel mushrooms
This is the simplest way of cooking morels and arguably the most popular. All you need is a frying pan or electric cook top. Roll the mushrooms in all-purpose flour and place them in the pan. Some people like to crack a few eggs and add a cup of milk. Mix that together and dip the morel in that mixture after the first coating of flour, then roll it again in flour again before frying it. Some people like to roll them in bread crumbs before throwing them in the pan.
There is almost no wrong way to make fried morel mushrooms. Some people just get out a large skillet and fry them up using medium heat with only with the flour and butter. Add a little kosher salt, black pepper, one teaspoon garlic powder or other seasonings as you see fit. Don't be afraid to experiment a bit to find out what you like best.
You're going to want to cook the morels until they are golden brown on all sides. It should be obvious when they are done. Then they will be ready as a perfect appetizer or side dish to whatever meal you're cooking up that evening. Now let's look at some alternate ways to prepare them.
Cheese, bacon and jalapeno stuffed mushrooms
This is simply a recipe that I ran across on YouTube. It is just like many fried mushroom recipes out there in the way you'll be cooking it. The only difference is that they stuffed the insides with cheese, chopped bacon and some jalapeno peppers for those looking for a little kick. Fry it up whole and you've got a delicious meal. Once again, make sure you are thoroughly cleaning the inside before trying this one because the morels must be whole for this one to work. It does look awesome though doesn't it? It's true what they say, bacon goes with everything!
Morel mushroom soup
Here's one you may have never thought of before. You'll need one diced onion, a tablespoon of minced garlic and some fresh thyme. Coat the pan in butter, add your ingredients and stir. Mix in with beef base or broth and a tablespoon of flour. Add two cups of cream and blend it and you've got a unique, home-foraged dinner. That's one thing we love about morels, all these recipes are super-easy to make, even for people who don't consider themselves talented in the kitchen.
Another alternative method of using your morels. This one calls for shallots, butter, garlic, chicken broth, cream and salt and pepper. Place olive oil in your pan before adding your other minced ingredients. Once those are sautéed, add the butter. Boil the morel mushrooms for about 15 minutes before straining them and then add them to the pan too. Let the morels brown and then add the chicken broth. Let that cook for three to four minutes before adding in the cream and some pepper. We like the idea of using this with some fresh venison steaks from last hunting season. Talk about a totally natural and home-foraged meal!
For one last unusual recipe idea, consider making a morel pasta. All you need is some spaghetti, morels, garlic clove, chicken stock, cream and olive oil to make this work. The guy in this video sautés the morels in a dry pan before adding olive oil. After that, add the chicken stock and later the cream. From there, he places the Italian spaghetti into the pot. When the pasta is nearly ready, mix it in with the morel sauce you are prepping in the other pan. Add more of the pasta water as needed until the sauce and pasta are thoroughly cooked. Add some parmesan cheese and serve. Use this recipe to impress your friends. They'll think you're a master chef to cook something like this with something you found in the woods.