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Sautéed Morel Mushrooms

Dried Morel Mushrooms

Can you believe that it’s spring already? The winter has finally come to a close and the spring’s classic warm humidity is lingering for longer periods of time. I’ve missed the warm sun on my face as I open the door to let out the dogs in the morning. Warm spring rain showers will soon aid the growth of lush green grass, fiddlehead ferns, fresh lettuce, and hidden patches of morel mushrooms.

Morel mushroom hunting is a tradition in the Midwest, beginning in April and continuing for a very brief three to four weeks. The delicate fungus thrives in moist, damp areas - like lower tree trunks and hidden mossy grounds.

Not really a mushroom fan the majority of my life, I have not sought out these little gems until recently. We live in the suburbs on about an acre of land, and our home backs up to a watershed preserve with lush wooded areas. There's enough natural space preserved that the wildlife abounds. Turkeys, deer, and woodchucks frequently jump over or crawl under the wrought iron fence surrounding our land. The previous owners of our land chose to maintain it with primarily native plant species. Although beautiful, I rarely find the time to care for it all. Large pine trees shade the west side, covering a dense planting of ferns with the occasional hydrangea peeking its pretty blue or pink head out. Last spring, I was cleaning out the area and discovered a large patch of mushrooms! Approximately 8-10 mushrooms of varying sizes, all with large honey-combed heads. I picked them and placed them on top of the recycling bin (out of reach of the dogs). I had no idea what they were. A neighbor friend stopped by and asked me what I was doing with the pile of mushrooms outside. I casually responded that I was going to place them in the trash… Horrified, she asked to have them. Of course, but why? It turns out that morel mushrooms are a delicacy! My neighbor was giddy to get home and sauté them with a bit of butter!

Sautéed Morel Mushrooms

Yields 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz dried morel mushrooms
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot (peeled and diced)
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and diced)
  • ¼ cup chicken, vegetable or beef stock
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves

Directions:

In a medium bowl, add the dried mushrooms and pour the hot water to cover them completely. Let them rehydrate for 30 minutes until soft. Drain, and pat dry with a clean towel. Slice the mushrooms in half and set aside.

In a large cast iron pan, add the butter. Melt, and add the shallot and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, stock, and salt. Sauté for 5-6 minutes until a creamy sauce forms and the mushrooms are tender and fragrant. Add chopped thyme to the mixture, and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

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