Morel Mushrooms – Cooking 101
Morel mushrooms (also known as morchella) are a safe and edible mushroom, and only found in the wild, making them greatly sought after.
They must be cooked, and not eaten raw, due to containing certain toxins.
Morels are renowned for being flavorful with a unique, nutty flavor and earthy smell and are thereby loved by cooks…particularly in France. Moreover, they are very nutritious and often considered a medicinal mushroom.
A versatile mushroom, Morels are often added to soups and or used as fillings in pasta or simply used in other meat dishes. If you are lucky enough to find a batch of Morels and are ready to fix a dish, here is a simple guide to preparing morels.
What You Need
A good-sized frying pan
A sharp knife for slicing the mushrooms
A decent bunch of cleaned morel mushrooms, as many as you can spare.
Oil for the frying pan – if you have extra virgin olive oil, great but any cooking oil will work just as well
Butter, garlic and onions
Choosing Your Morels
Morels are at their best when cooked fresh so if you can find some while foraging that, of course, would be ideal. Of course, most of us do not forage for our mushrooms so they can be found from a local supplier or online.
There are false morels so when foraging for your mushrooms take care you are picking the real thing. It helps to cut the mushroom in half to confirm if it is genuine, the inside will be hollow, and they will also have a white, cream-colored stem.
Try to pick firm, dry morels and ideally the younger ones, mainly because the older mushrooms are more prone to bugs and debris.
Clean and Rinse
The honeycomb texture of the morel mushrooms means they more susceptible to grit, dirt and bugs getting stuck. If you are using fresh mushrooms avoid cleaning them until just before cooking so they don’t become mushy from being soaked in water.
Morels are delicate so be careful with them when cleaning. Some people advise using a small piece of damp cloth or a pastry brush to remove the dirt. After this give them a short quick dip in cold water and dry them off.
Cut the Mushrooms
Morels don’t need much prep to cook, using a sharp knife you can trim off the bottom of the stem and then depending on the size of the mushroom you can half or quarter them.
Remember to double check if they are hollow inside to be sure you have edible morels.
Now that you have cleaned and prepped the mushrooms, it is time to cook them.
First you will need to heat the oil on a high temperature. Then add the morels avoiding overfilling the pan with mushrooms as you don’t want to stew them.
Add just a single layer to cover the pan. If you have more than one pan, then cook them in batches.
Stir the morels in the pan ensuring they are all coated by the oil. When they start to brown reduce the heat.
Then add the garlic and onions and simmer together while they brown and soften. Lastly, add a knob of butter, stir again to allow the butter to melt over all the morels. Then serve or add to as an accompaniment to a meal.
These mushrooms are delicious cooked simply like above, but you can enhance this recipe further by adding a dash of white wine, and cream with herbs or serve on toast. Enjoy!