From 2016: Every spring Iowans take to the woods in search of the ever elusive morel mushroom. This is a story of a few of those hunters and the love they have for the hobby.
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Editor’s note: These recipes were first published by the Register in 2014.
You can freeze morels, but a better way is to dry them. Slice them down the middle, open the halves and put them on sheets to dry. Save them in paper sacks or plastic bags once they are completely dry. To rejuvenate, soak in warm water. To cook, rinse several times, roll in flour and fry in butter.
1 ounce dried morels
1/2 small onion
Diced 1/2 bell pepper
Diced 1/2 cup shredded Colby cheese
In a 10-inch skillet, saute onions and bell pepper until the onions are clear. Break all eggs in a bowl and whisk together. Pour the eggs onto the onions and peppers. Let cook until the eggs start to firm up, stirring occasionally. Fold in the sauteed morels and cheese. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and slowly cook until the eggs cook through. Serve with salsa if desired.
Morel mushroom pan sauce
Centro executive chef Bill Overdyk incorporates morels into the menu every spring, and also cooks them at home. Here is his recipe for a morel sauce you can serve with grilled pork and roasted asparagus.
1 pound morels
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup Chardonnay (or your favorite white)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons chilled salted butter
Fresh cracked black pepper
1. Wash mushrooms by submerging them in cool water. Dry on some paper towels or throw them in the salad spinner for a couple spins (this dries them very nicely).
2. Heat a large saut pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the heated pan. Add the morel mushrooms and season lightly with salt and pepper. Saut until they give up their liquid.
3. Continue cooking until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms start taking on some color. Add the garlic to the pan and cook quickly. Add the wine and the fresh thyme. Let the wine reduce by about half.
4. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper if needed.
From 2016: Mushroom hunters from around the state of Iowa take to the woods each spring in their annual quest for the elusive morel mushroom.
Register file video
Chicken and Morel Saute
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon (freshly ground) black pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 to 2 cups sliced morels or other fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1 cup chicken broth (canned will work)
1 tablespoon butter
Combine flour, salt and pepper in a pie plate or dinner plate and stir to blend. Dip chicken into flour and coat it on all sides.
Heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a wide skillet just big enough to hold the chicken in 1 layer. Place the chicken in the skillet and cook 5 minutes. The chicken should be a rich golden brown. If it isn’t, cook it another minute or 2 (if it seems to be cooking too fast, turn the heat down a notch).
Turn the chicken over and cook 5 minutes on the other side (the chicken should be cooked through; peek into the middle of one to make sure it is opaque white and not translucent looking).
Remove the chicken to a platter. Pour off all but about a tablespoon of fat (just a thin coating should remain in the skillet). Add mushrooms and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; any liquid in the pan should have evaporated. Increase heat to high and add wine. Simmer until it reduces to about 2 tablespoons. Add chicken broth and reduce again until about 1/2 cup liquid remains.
Remove from heat, add a tablespoon of butter and spoon over chicken.
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