EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Morel season started a little late this year due to a cold spring, but now things seem to be rolling and those big, yellow, delicious mushrooms are popping up.
If you come home with a great haul (or talk a friend out of a couple of pounds), here are some ways to prepare them. Morels often contain small bugs in their hollow interiors, so it’s best to slice them in half vertically and rinse. If they’re particularly dirty, soak them briefly in salt water. Pat dry before cooking.
Extras can always be dehydrated, or coat them with flour, pan-fry and freeze between sheets of parchment paper.
More:Looking for morel mushrooms? Tri-State expert mushroom hunter offers tips for finding them
wild mushroom soup dijon
This recipe is a wonderful way to use morels in the spring or any other wild mushroom you might forage during the rest of the year. Dried porcinis and store-bought oyster, cremini and shitake mushrooms do very well too.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups diced onion
- 1 tablespoon or more fresh minced garlic
- 3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 1/2 pounds morel mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (see note below
- ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 quarter beef stock
- ¼ cup Maille Dijon mustard (if you use another brand, reduce amount and adjust to taste)
- 1 pint heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 6 baguette slices
- 1 tablespoon soft butter
- 6 ounces gruyere cheese, sliced
- Chopped parsley to garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a heavy pot melt the butter and add the onion, garlic, and thyme. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the onion is transparent and golden, about 10 minutes. Don’t let it brown too much.
2. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper. Raise heat and continue to cook, stirring often, until reduced, a further 10 minutes. Stir in the flour and combine well.
3. Add the beef stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Finish with mustard, cream and nutmeg, stirring to ensure the mustard is well distributed. Reheat but do not boil. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, and mustard if desired. Remove thyme sprigs.
5. In the meantime, Spread the bread slices with butter and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Top with gruyere cheese and return to oven just to melt.
6. Serve each bowl of soup topped with a gruyere toast and sprinkle of parsley.
NOTE: If you don’t have a pound and a half of morels, round it out with oyster mushrooms you’ve gathered or purchased, shitake or button mushrooms. Use dehydrated morels later in the year if you’ve put any back.
More:Brunch in the apple blossoms, taco festival and more in Evansville food news
If you’re a morel purist, you’ll want to cook them simply and enjoy the woodsy flavor all on its own. A combination of semolina and self-rising flour makes for a wonderfully textured coating.
- 1 pound (roughly) morels, halved, soaked in salt water 1 hour, and rinsed.
- ½ cup semolina flour
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- oil for frying
1. After rinsing the morels, place in a colander and shake away as much water as possible. Place in large mixing bowl and toss with the semolina flour. The flour will be sticky.
2. Place the self-rising flour in a clean dry bowl and add the mushrooms. Toss well and lift out of the flour, shaking away any excess. Place aside on a sheet pan lined with nonstick foil until the flour is no longer dry and powdery.
3. Heat ½ inch oil in a heavy skillet and when hot, add as many of the mushrooms as will fit without touching. Do not crowd the pan. Fry until brown and crisp on the bottom, then turn and crisp the final side.
4. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Fry more batches if necessary. Taste and sprinkle lightly with salt.
More:Wait… the bacon is ground INTO the burger? A new East Side restaurant has our attention.
Mushroom and gruyere orzo risotto
Morels are fantastic in creamy dishes made with lots of butter. Here’s an easy risotto that is made with orzo pasta rather than arborio rice. It’s quicker and impossible to mess up.
- 5 cups chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound morel mushrooms, rinsed
- 1 cup finely chopped leeks, washed (see note below)
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (if desired. If you have enough morels, use more of them in the first step)
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
- 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- 2 tablespoons cold butter
- Salt and white pepper to taste
1. Bring broth to simmer in heavy medium saucepan.
2. Melt butter in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add morels, leeks and garlic; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cremini mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. herbs and orzo; stir until pasta is coated with oil and warm, about two minutes.
3. Add wine; cook until liquid is absorbed. Add 1 cup hot broth; simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Continue to cook until pasta is just tender and mixture is creamy, adding more broth by cupsful and stirring often, about 15 minutes. Mix in cheese and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
NOTE: If you have access to ramps, a wild member of the garlic family foraged in spring, use them instead. The flavor is much stronger.
Contact Aimee Blume at firstname.lastname@example.org.