Heat up the deep fryer or prepare your favorite frying pan — it’s morel mushroom season. Morels can make a tasty addition to many meals, no matter breakfast, lunch or dinner.
There are a variety of ways to cook morels, but the most popular are sautéing and frying.
First, always identify morel mushrooms as safe to eat before consuming.
There are several types of morels in Missouri and some are poisonous. Consult an expert and/or check multiple field guides before cooking. Morels should not be eaten raw; cook them thoroughly first.
The Missouri Department of Conservation offers an online field guide, which breaks down the description of edible morels and what false, inedible morels may look like.
More:5 things to remember when hunting for morel mushrooms
Sauté your morels for a deep, rich flavor.
Hotel Vandivort executive chef Calvin Davis said sautéed morels are his favorite.
- Heat a pan with neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable oil
- Add the mushrooms and cook until seared
- Add salt, pepper and about one tablespoon of butter
- Let the butter melt and brown before removing from heat
Prior to sautéing, morels should be completely dry.
Davis said after his first round of morel hunting he always enjoys a mushroom toast: sautéed morels atop toast.
For a larger meal, sautéed morels pair great with red meat and fish, Davis said. One of his favorite recipes is pepper steak.
To enjoy at home, Davis recommended Bon Appetit’s recipe, which he said is close to his own:
- Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 15-30 minutes.
- Crush 1 tablespoon black peppercorns.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet and cook the steaks, about 3 minutes on each side until desired doneness.
- Reduce heat and add 2 smashed garlic cloves, 3 thyme sprigs and 1 tablespoon of butter to pan.
- Cook for about 2 minutes, then remove steaks to rest.
- Combine 1 shallot, 2 sliced garlic gloves, crushed peppercorn and 2 tablespoons of butter in pan until shallot and garlic are softened.
- Remove from heat. Add 1/3 cup brandy (Davis recommended red wine instead) to pan.
- Set pan over medium heat and cook until cognac/red wine is nearly evaporated.
- Add 1/2 cup heavy cream and bring to a simmer until the sauce coats a spoon.
- Add Pepper sauce to steaks.
This recipe makes four servings.
For the full recipe, visit bonappetit.com/recipe/strip-steak-au-poivre
Enjoy a backyard fish fry with the addition of deep-fried morels.
“Growing up, we’d go find some mushrooms, catch a bunch of fish … get together and do a big fish fry,” Davis said. “(Morels and fish) fry the same way, so it’s super easy.”
Davis recommended tossing dried morels in a fish fry breading mix—his favorite is Louisiana Fish Fry—then adding to a deep fryer. Controlling a deep fryer’s temperature to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit is important when cooking morels, he added.
Pair the fried fish and morels with French fries, hush puppies, coleslaw or any of your other favorite sides.
Another way to enjoy deep-fried morels is by adding them to a salad as a crouton element, which Davis said he’s done in restaurants before.
More:Missouri mushroom foraging season is here. How can you find the prized morel?
The next time you roast a chicken or turkey, try a pairing of morel stuffing.
The Missouri Department of Conservation offers a variety of recipes that can be made with local game and plants, including mushrooms. And one is more stuffing.
To make, the MDC instructs:
- Set 6-8 cups of bread pieces (rolls or homemade bread) out overnight to dry
- Sauté 1 small onion, 3/4 cup chopped celery and 2-3 cups chopped morels in 1 tablespoon of butter
- Add 1 teaspoon of sage and salt and pepper to taste
- Combine with the dried bread
- Mix 1.5-2 cups salted chicken broth and 2 beaten eggs in a separate bowl
- Pour broth and egg mixture over bread mixture and stir until it becomes “soupy”
- Spoon into a 2-quart greased saucepan dish, cover
- Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit
For the full recipe list and a how-to video, visit the MDC website at mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/recipes/mushroom/morel-stuffing.
Create a restaurant-style meal with pasta.
Another one of Davis’ restaurant classics is sautéed morels with a homemade pasta and butter sauce.
If you’d like a simple, quicker meal, Bon Appetit has a recipe for fettuccine with asparagus, morels and tarragon with store-bought noodles.
For the full recipe, visit bonappetit.com/recipe/fettuccine-with-asapargus-morels-and-tarragon
Whether at home or in a restaurant, Davis said he always tries to work in morels when available to him.
“In restaurants, we just kind of use (morels) as a luxury add-on, like truffles,” Davis said. “That’s kind of the way I do it at home. Whatever I’m going to cook that night, if I have morels in the fridge, then I’m going to try to incorporate them somehow.”
Greta Cross is the trending topics reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @gretacrossphoto. Story idea? Email her at email@example.com