If you are from the midwest, you know what these are...and if you're not from the midwest, you may have had them in a fancy restaurant (yeah, they're that good). I know a chef at Prime Steakhouse in Vegas and they pay $39.95 a pound for these babies, too bad for them we found these in the woods behind our house for free!
Morel mushrooms are a new love of mine, that came with meeting my main man, actually. I had never tried them before our first Spring together, and now I look forward to that 2-3 week span when mushrooms are popping every single year. This year, that window came a lot earlier than expected so we didn't get as many trips to go "mushroom hunting" as we would in a normal year. Record high temps throughout the Winter and the Spring made the season come a whole month to 6 weeks earlier than normal.
These that are pictured are HUGE, and had some bad spots because they were found at the tail end of the season. If the mushrooms grow too big, they tend to dry out if there hasn't been any rain. These were some of the biggest I've seen in person!
BIG AS MY HAND!
I hope you're not looking for a skinny recipe today, folks. If so, go check out another blog and ignore me today while I get my fat on over here. You only get morels for a short time each year, so you have to do it right! And right means fried, or sauteed in butter. These mushrooms are so meaty and earthy, they are perfectly prepared with just a few ingredients to make sure you maintain their taste without overwhelming them.
The standard way I've seen them made (and the way they were served to me when I first tried them) is breaded and fried. We like to use fish fry, I tried the cajun flavor this time and it worked great! After washing and cutting the bad parts off the mushrooms, dip them in egg before coating them in the breading. Add them to a hot skillet (I use olive oil instead of vegetable oil to try and healthy it up at least a tiny bit) and when the breading gets all golden brown like you see below, they're done! Oh me, oh my, these are wonderful!
The second most common way I've seen them served (and this is my favorite so far), is pan-frying them in butter with a little seasoned salt. It lets the flavor of the wild mushroom shine through, it doesn't feel as fatty as eating something that's battered, and they're just freaking spectacular! How nice does that look....
As I said, the season ran short on us this year so we didn't get to hunt as much as I would've liked. I got another recipe (a merlot morel sauce for steaks, ummmmm yum) from a friend that I am DYING inside to try, but I guess that has to wait until next year...look for that post next April-ish :)