When you think of fall, it is more than likely that dishes made with mushrooms come to mind. One well-known variety is the morel mushroom. This type of mushroom has an earthy flavor and is relatively easy to clean and prepare as long as you know what you’re doing. Below is a guide on how to cook with morel mushrooms in case you haven’t done it before.
How to Identify Good Morel Mushrooms
It doesn’t take much for morel mushrooms to rot. Before you purchase any, you want to look at each one closely. You want to check for softness and signs of rot. A good morel mushroom is firm and dry. Bigger morels are prone to sponginess because of their older age. Smaller morels are usually the best choice for cooking.
If you’re picking yours fresh, be sure to inspect it closely to make absolutely sure that it is a morel. Morels do sometimes grow in the wild, but there is another mushroom that looks very similar and yet is poisonous. They’re called fake morel mushrooms, and you can tell them from the real morels by these characteristics:
- Real morel mushrooms have a cap covered in pits and ridges. A false morel mushroom has a cap that’s wavy and lobed.
- True morel mushrooms have a cap that’s longer than the stem. False morels had a cap that looks irregular and squashed.
- True morel mushroom caps are attached to the stems. False ones hang freely.
- The inside of a true morel mushroom is hollow, whereas a false moral has a stem that is filled with fibers or chunks of tissue.
Clean Your Morel Mushrooms
Morel mushrooms must be cleaned well. Little bugs and worms can make homes in the cap. If you see any wispy white threads, it’s probably not white mold. It could be a sign that there are worms living in the mushroom. Also, be sure to use a dry pastry brush to dust off any dirt and debris that may be present.
How to Trim Morel Mushrooms
The first step to cutting your morel mushrooms is to slice away the dirty part at the bottom of the stem. After you’ve done that you’ll want to cut your morels in half, lengthwise. You can leave them like this for cooking, or you can cut them into quarters. If you need to divide them up further, that’s fine too.
Before you can cook your morel mushrooms, you will first want to add some oil to the pan. Be sure to set your burner to high heat in order to brown the mushrooms properly. The morels will soften and brown as they are cooked. Although you can use butter instead of oil, butter makes it more challenging not to burn them before the required cook time is through. It’s better to wait until the morels have been properly cooked all the way through before adding any butter to them.
If you want to make your mushrooms taste even better, lower the heat and you can add minced onions, shallots, and garlic to the pan. Note that these ingredients need to start cooking before you add the mushrooms otherwise you’ll end up burning them before the mushrooms are ready.
After the morels have finished cooking, add about three tablespoons or so of butter. You can adjust the quantity based on taste, but you want to have enough butter to allow the morels to soak it all up in the crevices of the little mushroom caps.
You can further spice things up a bit by adding some soy sauce to your mushrooms. You can also add lemon juice to brighten up the appearance of the dish. A little stock will aid in blending the butter into a creamy mushroom sauce. You can also add herbs to your mushrooms as well. Choose from a variety like:
- Minced Chives
You should also consider seasoning with some salt and pepper too. If you have already added soy sauce, be sure not to add too much salt, as most soy sauces are already high in sodium. The next step? Enjoy!