Morel Mushrooms: A Rare Delicacy

Morel Mushrooms: A Rare Delicacy

Morels are probably the most sought after mushroom by connoisseurs. These jewels of the forest are often found in areas where there has been a forest fire. In fact it has been reported that hillsides have been deliberately set ablaze so the morels will spring up from the ash and embers. There is no mistaking a morel for any other type of mushroom. Dried morels are easily identified by their cone-like appearance with a hollow inside and serious wrinkling. Morels are either almost black or ivory-to-tan in color. Generally picked in the springtime, the morel offers a definite smoky and earthy flavor. These flavors definitely come to the fore in whatever dish they are used.

Morels are always destined for the frying pan or as an addition to many dishes. Morel mushrooms should never be eaten raw. Morels pair beautifully with light cream and wine sauces. They are superb with egg and pasta dishes. Be sure you don't over season any dish you are preparing with morels. The flavors of the mushroom are assertive enough to stand on their own. Larger morels are also perfect for stuffing after you reconstitute them.

Reconstitute mushrooms in white or red wine, soup stock, water, consommé or milk. Use just like fresh mushrooms. Strain the soaking liquid through a coffee filter or a fine strainer. Never discard the reconstituting liquid since it is filled with morel flavor. Use in your dish or freeze in ice trays and then transfer the cubes to a plastic freezer bag. Long after the mushrooms have been used, the liquid will still be there for using in dishes. Store dried mushrooms in an airtight container or freeze up to one year.