It's springtime, which to mushroom enthusiasts means morels! My local mycology club's email list has been abuzz with discussions about morel sightings and morel forays. These little honeycombed mushrooms are front page news these days in culinary circles.
Morels are a funny-looking mushroom. They have teardrop-shaped caps attached to a hollow stem. The caps are honeycomb-like and are comprised of a series of ridges and pits. Colors of morels can range from dark brown, black, gray, yellow, and tan. They are delicious whether eaten fresh or dried and then reconstituted.
Do not wash morels. Remove any visible dirt with a brush. Store in a paper bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. Morels should not be eaten raw and must be cooked. They do well sauteed in butter with salt and pepper. You can add a wine reduction or a cream sauce if you like; morels do well with either. Another common way to cook morels is to dip them in some beaten egg, then breadcrumbs, and then deep-fry them in oil. Some people on my mushroom club email list have said they enjoy stuffing them with cheese and baking them. Morels pair well with asparagus; try them in a cream sauce over some pasta! More morel recipes can be found here. Also, try them with some fiddlehead ferns and ramps, perhaps in a risotto?
If you can't find fresh morels at your local market or upscale grocer, both fresh and dried morels can be purchased online. The three top sources for fresh morels are:
(Image: Kathryn Hill)