Simply Fried Morel Mushrooms
The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, May 1st 2016 edition. By: Blaise Doubman
Morel mushrooms go from forest to table – if you can find them…
Growing up, I always heard stories of morel mushroom hunting and it always seemed like something magical to me. I would listen carefully to my Mom, Darla, discuss in detail to my Grandpa Max, about how she had went into this certain patch of woods and she would pull back some brush, and find a huge patch of morel mushrooms! I have never really been a fan of spending my summer afternoons in the thickest part of the woods in the heat and humidity, sharing my personal space with bugs, snakes, and who knows what else – but over the years I have tried it, and it’s never really grew on me. The stories made the hunting seem more magical to me than they really were. And let’s just get this out in the open – I have never, not once, found a morel mushroom. I must not have “the gift”. “The gift” is something that my parents both share, as well as my brother, Damon. I don’t really have the skill I guess, and people don’t rely on me much to find them, but they do rely on me to cook them.
Over the years I have experimented with these, but never could find a way that was better than how my Grandpa Max would fix them. I tried dredging them in Parmesan cheese, I tried crispy onion breading and even pickling them – nothing really worked out that well. I decided to just settle on the method of simple frying. It maintains their taste, and integrity without changing the texture or flavor that much. I’ll admit that I’m not really the biggest fan of these, but I know people (almost everyone in my family) that go wild for this delicacy. Some words of caution if you decide to go hunting for these – be sure to ask permission of the landowner if the land you’re hunting on isn’t yours, wear bug spray, watch out for ticks, wear long pants and long sleeves to cover up as much skin as you can, and if you find a prime location for morel mushrooms, keep it to yourself – that’s one secret real mushroom hunters will never share!
Simply Fried Morel Mushrooms
These mushrooms can be eaten in a variety of ways. Try them fried and then drizzled with balsamic vinegar or even as a special topping to your average salad. For a savory treat, try tossing them in with some Parmesan sprinkled pasta or even pair them with fresh sea scallops. The possibilities are endless. My Great Grandpa, Willie Davis, would eat them between two slices of white bread – moral mushroom sandwich!
Batch of morel mushrooms (approx. 4-5 cups)
1 cup white all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
4 tablespoons salted butter
Start by cutting the morel mushrooms in half, length wise, and placing them in a large bowl of salted water. This is an important step in removing all of the impurities that the mushrooms can harbor. Place them in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours to throughly soak. Be sure the water completely covers all of the mushrooms for them to soak properly.
Once soaked, remove the mushrooms and drain on paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
Combine the white all-purpose flour and yellow cornmeal in a shallow dish and mix together.
In a large skillet, place the unsalted butter and allow to melt over medium-high heat.
Once the butter starts to bubble, it’s time to fry. Take the mushrooms, one at a time, and dredge them in the flour and cornmeal mixture, and place them carefully in the skillet.
Fry the mushrooms until golden brown and crispy which will take about 6-8 minutes, turning he mushrooms once to ensure even frying.
Once fried, remove from the skillet and carefully lay them on paper towels to drain. Salt the mushrooms to your taste, and enjoy!