Morels aren’t the easiest mushrooms to find. Unlike the distinct blaze orange of chanterelles, the big-bodied clouds of chicken of the woods, or the white, shaggy plumes of Lion’s mane, morel mushrooms are small, low to the ground, and camouflage easily with dirt and leaf rot. Still, everyone from spring turkey hunters to diehard foragers keep an eye out for them for a reason: They’re delicious. So once you find a few, what’s the best way to cook morel mushrooms? You could fry them in butter for a quick and tasty snack. Or you could make a meal out of them. We asked experienced foragers, cooks, and hunters to share their favorite morel mushroom recipes, along with their tips for preparing them.
Morel Mushroom Risotto
Carlson likes to prepare morels with other foraged ingredients like ramps and nettles. Jamie Carlson
Jamie Carlson is a hunter, angler, forager, and wild food blogger from Minnesota who has published wild-game recipes and tips on Outdoor Life, as well as Modern Carnivore and Outdoor News. You can find venison, pike, turkey, and wild-rice recipes on his Instagram feed, along with foraged cocktail ingredients and his hunting and fishing photos.
“I really like risotto when it comes to morel mushroom recipes because it doesn’t take very many mushrooms to have a big impact on the flavor of the dish,” Carlson tells Outdoor Life. “If you have morel seasons like I’ve had in the past, where you only find a handful, this is a great way to make your morels go a long way and feed the whole family. This risotto uses two other great spring ingredients—ramps and nettles—and is one of my favorite springtime dishes.”
1½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup chopped ramps, stems, and leaves (if you don’t have ramps, use finely diced yellow onion)
1/3 cup stinging nettle puree, (8 oz nettle leaves sautéed in a pan with butter and pureed in food processor)
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Morel mushrooms, as many as you have, sautéed in butter and roughly chopped to stir into your risotto
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Warm your stock in a medium-sized pan over medium-low heat. You don’t need to boil it, just keep it warm.
In a large sauté pan, melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the ramps and season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until soft. Be careful to not burn the ramps.
Stir in the rice and toast for a few minutes to coat it with butter and oil. Once the rice turns translucent, add white wine and stir, cooking until all the wine is absorbed.
Ladle the stock into the rice mixture. Stir frequently, allowing the stock to absorb before adding the next ladle.
When the stock is almost gone, add the nettle puree and morel mushrooms. Stir to combine. Cook to your preferred consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and enjoy.
Asian-Inspired Chicken Thighs with Morels
Morel mushrooms take this chicken-and-rice dish to a new level. Trent Blizzard
Trent and Kristen Blizzard are foraging enthusiasts and founders of Modern Forager, a blog dedicated to all things mushrooms and other wild edibles. They also publish wildfire burn maps to help foragers find prime morel hunting spots. This recipe is republished with permission from their cookbook, Wild Mushrooms: A Cookbook and Foraging Guide, which is full of other morel mushroom recipes, too. Forager, artist, and botanical printer Mayumi Fujio contributed this recipe to the book. She is from San Francisco and uses mushroom-based dyes and other foraged plants in her textile work.
“Morels in an Asian-inspired sauce with tender chicken thighs will become your next favorite comfort food,” Kristen says of this unique morel mushroom recipe. “You might want to double this recipe for leftovers or to share with friends!”
This recipe will work with fresh or dried morels. Brent Hofacker / Adobe Stock
1/2 oz. dried morels (8 oz fresh)
1 lb. boneless chicken thighs
3 tbsp. sake, divided
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. potato starch
1 tbsp. neutral oil (like grapeseed or vegetable oil)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. ginger, chopped
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
Your choice of rice or pasta
Rehydrate morels by cooking in a separate pan with soaking liquid (like water or chicken stock) for 10 to 15 minutes until liquid is gone. If using fresh morels, sauté until well cooked.
Cut the chicken thighs into bite-size pieces and marinate in 1 tablespoon of sake and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Remove after 10 minutes, put in a plastic bag, and add potato starch to coat.
In a wok, heat oil and then fry chicken on medium heat, add garlic and ginger and continue to stir-fry. If the chicken is not cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F, add a little water to cook thoroughly.
Once the chicken is cooked, add the morels.
Add remaining sake, oyster sauce, and soy sauce. Sauté until everything is coated. Spoon over rice or pasta. Enjoy!
Eggs Cocotte with Morels and Shrimp
This recipe is a decadent start to any morning. Alan Bergo
Alan Bergo is a James Beard award-winning chef, cooking show host, published author, and forager with lots of experience developing morel mushroom recipes. After a battle with the harsh realities of the restaurant industry and other personal hardships (read his story here), Bergo found wild food foraging as a healing practice that reinvigorated his love for cooking. He wrote The Forager Chef’s Book of Flora: Recipes and Techniques for Edible Plants from the Garden, Field, and Forest and hosted “The Wild Harvest with Chef Alan Bergo.” He also connects with his audience through his wild food blog, Forager | Chef.
“Around the third week in May, my fridge is getting full and morels start to get eaten for any meal of the day,” Bergo says. “One of my all-time favorite morel season breakfasts is eggs baked in a creamy sauce of morel and shrimp, served with toast. It’s a modern version of a classic French dish enjoyed by Charles De Gaulle, called ‘Eggs en Cocotte aux Morilles.’ With a few fresh morels, and a couple custard dishes, you’ll have a breakfast fit for a president.”
½ oz. dried morels (you can increase this to 1 oz if you like)
1 cup hot stock such as shrimp or beef, or water in a pinch
1 oz. plus 2 tbsp finely-chopped shallot
Generous splash of brandy
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, separated, plus more for cooking croutons (if using)
Pinch of flour (optional)
½ cup heavy cream
4 large or extra-large eggs
4 oz. raw shrimp, fresh or thawed, cut into ½ inch pieces
Fresh-ground black pepper
Fresh-cut chives, to taste
Croutons (toasted strips of stale bread, fried in butter; serve 2 to 3 per person
Dried Morel Cream
Can be made up to a day ahead of time
First, make the dried morel cream. Rehydrate the morels in the stock for 30 minutes, swishing them around occasionally.
Squeeze the morels dry, reserving the soaking liquid, then remove to a cutting board and cut into 1-inch pieces. If you suspect your morels were at all dirty/sandy, rinse them a second time quickly in a couple cups of cold water. Drain the water; keep the morels.
Heat one tablespoon of butter in a small saucepan, add the shallot, and cook for a minute. Add the morels and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and mix to combine, then add the brandy and cook off.
Add the stock. Bring to a simmer and reduce until the pan is nearly dry. Season the mixture with a pinch of salt. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and allow to cool. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed until the morel cream tastes rich and delicious.
Egg and Shrimp
Grease 4 ramekins or other oven-safe dishes with butter, then put them in a deep, wide pot where they will all lay flat.
Divide the shrimp evenly between the four ramekins, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, then pour water into the pot (not in the ramekins) until the ramekins are half-submerged.
Bring the uncovered pot to a simmer and cook the shrimp until just starting to turn pink, about 3-4 minutes, then crack an egg into each ramekin.
Meanwhile, warm the morel cream to loosen it. Divide the mixture evenly between each serving dish, trying not to cover the egg yolks.
Cover the pot and turn the heat to low, then set a timer for 4 minutes. Check on the eggs by gently poking the yolks—they should be runny still. (Cook them another minute if needed. When in doubt, undercook them a tiny bit.)
Remove the ramekins with tongs or a spatula, transfer to a plate, sprinkle with chives, and serve with the croutons on the side. Serve with steamed, buttered nettles or a side dish of other seasonal greens.
Morel Crostini with Goat Cheese and Shallot
“The Gentleman Forager” Mike Kempenich prepares morel mushrooms for cooking. Mike Kempenich
Mike Kempenich hails from Minnesota’s Twin Cities, where he works on his direct-to-consumer wild food brand, Forest to Fork, and runs his website, The Gentleman Forager. He also offers classes on identifying, harvesting, and cooking mushrooms, guides foraging trips, and offers catering services. He has perfected many morel mushroom recipes over his career.
“The subtle hints of thyme and shallot, the tanginess of goat cheese, and the added crunch of the crostini make this a spectacular treat for friends and family,” Kempenich says. “Enjoy!”
2 lbs. fresh morels or 8 oz. of dried morels
8 tbsp. salted butter
1 ½ cups finely diced shallot
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. thyme
8 oz. goat cheese crumbles
2 baguettes, sliced into ½-inch rounds
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Slice your baguettes into ½-inch rounds to make the crostini. Place all the rounds on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, or until they are firm and toasted.
While your crostini are baking, clean the morels thoroughly. Run them under water sufficient to force any grit from the honeycomb-like caps. If you are using dried morels, place them in a salad spinner, fill the spinner with water and vigorously agitate them as you would a head of lettuce. Repeat this process 2 to 3 times until the water you discard appears mostly clean.
Give a rough chop to your mushrooms, maybe 1- to 2-inch pieces, and set aside to drain any excess moisture.
Place a large pan on medium-high heat and, when the pan is hot, add all your mushrooms. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes and allow the moisture of the mushrooms to be released. When your mushrooms have released most of their liquid either pour the liquid off and reserve for later use, or cook off the liquid in the pan. Remove the morels and set aside.
Add 4 tablespoons of butter and let melt, then add the shallot and sauté until translucent and slightly caramelized. When your shallot is done, add the mushrooms back to your pan and add the thyme, salt, and pepper, stirring the pan to evenly distribute for 2 to 4 minutes.
Add the goat cheese crumbles and the remaining butter, and allow the heat to melt the cheese and butter and fully incorporate with the mushrooms. This should take another 3 to 5 minutes.
Spoon the mushroom mixture onto the crostini and serve.
Grouse Breasts in Morel Cream Sauce
This recipe calls for two by-products of a good day in the woods: ruffed grouse breasts and morel mushrooms. Noah Davis
The woods of western Montana provide much more than just morel mushrooms for Noah Davis. A lifelong hunter, angler, and forager originally from Pennsylvania, Davis spent years working for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation before just recently joining the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership as the communications manager for their Western Conservation branch. (Davis is also a freelance writer and poet whose debut anthology, Of This River, published in 2020.)
“I’ve always been drawn to small streams. In the spring, I follow the water to trout eagerly looking up for dry flies as wildflowers color the bank. It’s on these days that I find myself scrambling and crawling to the next hole, searching for a casting window when suddenly and unexpectedly, like all good gifts, I find morels next to my hand,” Davis writes. “After the summer months of fish fade into fall, I hike those same small streams looking for ruffed grouse. If I’m lucky, and don’t flinch too violently when the bird thunders from the thick alders, I’ll retrieve the still-warm body on the bank after a quick shot and remember what offerings the stream has given me in such a short year.
“The culmination of this place is what makes grilled grouse breasts in a cream and morel sauce one of my favorite morel mushroom recipes. So many seasons in one mouthful.”
2 ruffed grouse breasts
10 dehydrated morels (or more, go crazy!)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup sherry
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. crushed rosemary
Flour to dust breasts
Salt and pepper for taste
Sprinkle salt, pepper, and rosemary onto the grouse breasts, then dust in flour. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook the grouse breasts until golden brown on both sides. Remove meat from the skillet.
Add shallots to the pan and cook until soft.
Add remaining butter to the pan and morels. Fry for one minute.
Add sherry to deglaze the pan and cook off the alcohol.
Pour in heavy whipping cream and reduce by half.
Add the breasts back into the pan to warm through. Salt and pepper to taste, then serve over roasted potatoes or rice.
Tips for Foraging and Cooking Morel Mushrooms
If you find a large group of morels, resist the urge to take all of them. fotocof / Adobe Stock
There are a few common rules and guidelines when it comes to being a sustainable morel forager and a good cook. Keep these tips in mind from your first mushroom hunt of the season through your last bite of these morel mushroom recipes.
Don’t eat morel mushrooms raw. Soak and dry them before cooking them thoroughly. All those little nooks and crannies in the caps can conceal bugs and grit, so it’s best to clean them as well as possible. But more importantly, cooking morels makes them safe to eat. Like many wild mushrooms, morels possess toxins that can cause varying degrees of gastric upset. If you don’t cook those toxins before eating a morel, the consequences can range from a stomach ache to locking yourself in the bathroom for hours on end.
If you come across a big patch of morels, don’t take them all. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of finding the motherlode. More traditional foragers will tell you to take a third of what you see, or to only take what you need.
Read Next: 12 Tips for Finding More Morel Mushrooms This Spring
You can cut or pull morels out of the ground. The long-held idea that pulling a whole morel out of the ground is bad for the next harvest (as opposed to cutting it at the stem) appears to be a myth. This article points out that leaving behind the “stump” of a morel just creates a small spot for bacteria and bugs to take over.
Use a basket or a mesh bag to carry your morels. The holes in your carrying bag will allow morel spores to spread as you forage. This will ensure there will be more than enough in the future. A basket or mesh bag also helps the morels breathe and lets dirt fall away.
No morel mushroom recipe beats sautéing them in butter and sprinkling with a pinch of salt. This is the best way to let the rich flavor of morel mushrooms shine.
The post The Best Morel Mushroom Recipes appeared first on Outdoor Life.
Articles may contain affiliate links which enable us to share in the revenue of any purchases made.