Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Marvelous, Magical Morels

I am going to clue you into a little secret here. Morels are big news in Southern Indiana. Come each May, the Morel Hunters run amok. Now these people mean business. Don't even think of trying to follow one of these dedicated Morel Hunters to their preferred hunting grounds. Why, stories have been told of shot gun-wielding property owners standing guard over these precious plots.

I was so very happy to see that my local, upscale Kroger had a bin of morels. I have to say that I did have to pick carefully through the bin, but given that these beauties were priced at $49.99 (yes, you read that correctly) a pound, I can see why they might be in danger of going bad.
Botany lesson for the day: morels are fungi, but are not mushrooms as they have no gills and spores.

Please note that morels should never be eaten raw as they contain a poisonous toxin and even cooked morels can affect sensitive individuals. Still hungry? Good. Your patience (and bravery) will be rewarded.

Now, I purchased eight morels, or 0.14 pounds (or 2-1/8 oz.). This translated to $7.00 for these elusive fungi. But hey, nothing is too good for my dear readers.

All right, I need to have food to go along with these delectable morels. I don't know why. I was told that once, so I have to believe that that is true.

Once again, I just grabbed a bunch of ingredients out of the pantry and fridge to come up with a marinade. What can I say? Unlike some pedigreed chefs, I really don't see the need to get all uptight about the ingredients or percentages in a marinade.

So, here we have:

red pepper flakes

black pepper


a decent mid-grade balsamic vinegar (remember, the farther you are from the end process, the lesser quality the balsamic vinegar can be)


whole grain mustard

flank steak

As is normal for me, I played mad scientist and added marinade ingredients until I was satisfied with the flavor combinations. I look for a balance of flavor, of sweet/tartness, of yin and yang. This balance will vary, depending upon the cycle of the moon, of my moods and whether my favorite guy is currently leading the points race in NASCAR.

Once I was happy with the balance of flavors, I poured the marinade in with the flank steak and sealed that in a bag. This then sat in the fridge for a few hours.

Since we needed a balanced meal, I decided to make a variation of my Bacon, Broccoli and Craisin Salad. This time out I substituted carrots for the craisins. Sounds reasonable to me, right? C for C?

Ah, and now we move on to the good stuff. I melted one tablespoon of unsalted butter and one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick pan. I added the dry (shaken, but not stirred - and please do not rinse your mushrooms or fungi!) morels to the pan. These sauteed for a few minutes before being removed to a serving dish. At this point I added a sprinkling of a delicate French Sea Salt to the morels.

Viola, dinner is served.

The delicate, earthy morels needed nothing more than butter, olive oil and sea salt to bring out their sensuous, woodsy goodness.

Even something as simple as changing out an ingredient made a noticeable difference in this dish.

The marinade for the flank steak was pure inspiration. Even my discriminating foodie daughter was left raving about this dish.
I only wish that
1) morel season was longer
and that
2) I could actually afford for morel season to be longer.
If you ever have the chance to try morels, please do. You will be amazed. And if some one else is paying, that is even better.

1 comment:

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Now you've really tickled my tongue.