Tag Archives: morel mushrooms

Wild Morel Mushroom Risotto

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Every spring I look forward to our trips up to the Cascade Mountains of Southern Oregon to hunt mushrooms.  Usually during the month of May, for only a few short weeks, you can find wild morel mushrooms.   Morel mushrooms are one of my favorite fungi to prepare and what’s so cool about them is that we can find them close to our home in the mountains that surround the Rogue Valley.

Early one Sunday afternoon, Bruce and I hopped in the truck to visit some friends who live up on the Greensprings about 15 miles east of Ashland.  The Greensprings is right in the heart of morel mushroom country here in Southern Oregon.  That afternoon, Bruce and I were invited to a potluck barbecue with family and friends.  Before the barbecue dinner, the entire group of us planned on hunting for morel mushrooms deep in the forests of Southern Oregon.

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A view on the way up to the summit of the Cascades.  Every time we drive up the mountains, I can’t help but look for the elk herds in the meadows above the road.  Spring and fall seem to be the best time of year to see them.  During the summer months they are found at higher elevations deep in the forests and during the winter, they prefer lower, warmer elevations.  Unfortunately, we did not see any elk today.

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A view below the summit on Highway 66.  We are just a few miles away from the Pacific Crest Trail in the Southern Oregon Cascades and about 5 miles from some of the best mushroom picking spots that I know.

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We finally reached our destination.  These mountain forests contain an abundance of wild mushrooms.  Today we focused only on Morels…  Morel mushrooms are an amazing delicacy that most people see only in fine restaurants or specialty markets.  When picking wild mushrooms, be so very careful to properly identify them before taking them home.  If you are not 100% positively sure of what you are looking at, DON”T PICK IT.  EVER… Some species of mushrooms look so very much alike and are difficult to identify.  I don’t want to frighten you but picking mushrooms is serious business.  It’s potentially dangerous if you pick the wrong one.  You pick the wrong one and you may run the risk of getting terribly sick, or losing your liver or worse, losing your life.

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I found one!  Morels have a distinctive shape and color.  They look like little brown pine cones on the forest floor.  When hunting for morel mushrooms, be mindful of where you walk, you just might step on one!

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A bowl of fresh picked morels…  I just now need to trim up the stems and briefly soak them in salt water to eliminate little bugs or debris.  I will dry or freeze what we will not use within the next few days.

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With some of our fresh picked morels I made a lovely Wild Morel Mushroom Risotto. My Morel Mushroom Risotto is a deliciously creamy blend of arborio rice, morel mushrooms, onion, garlic, thyme, chicken stock, white wine and fresh shaved Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 to 5 cups chicken stock (hot)
  • 1 cup morel mushrooms (chopped)
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 – 3 cups morels (sliced)
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by heating the olive oil in a thick bottomed pot on medium heat.  Saute the onion in the olive oil until cooked through or transparent.  Add arborio rice and cook for a few minutes.  Add white wine and stir constantly until wine has been absorbed by the rice.  Add 1 cup of the hot chicken stock stirring until the liquid has been absorbed.  Cook for at least 20 minutes adding remaining chicken stock one cup at a time.  Add chopped morel mushrooms after about 15 minutes of cooking. Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  The goal is for the arborio rice to make a thick and creamy sauce.

In a separate pan, quickly saute the 2 – 3 cups of sliced morel mushrooms in 1 1/2 tsp olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook for a few short minutes.  Remove from heat and ladle the sauteed morel mushrooms over the risotto mixture. Makes 4 servings.

Morel Havarti Omelet

Morel Havarti Omelet

One of the things that I love about Oregon is our morel mushrooms.  I never tasted a morel mushroom before until I moved here well over 25 years ago.  Nearly every year I hunt for them on the forest floor of the Cascade Mountains in the spring and early summer.  Some years I am able to find buckets full of mushrooms, sadly, this year, I was so busy with other things, I did not get a chance to go…  From what I heard from people who live in the mountains above the Rogue Valley is that the weather conditions were less than ideal this year and the picking season was terribly short.  So, when I saw these tasty little morels at my favorite food coop, I snagged a brown paper bag full.

Morels are easily identifiable by their shape and their honeycomb texture.  Before going out and picking morels be sure to do your homework and learn how to identify them properly.  There are other mushrooms out in the forest that are similar in shape and size to a morel. Those mushrooms are called false morels and what’s bad about them is that they are not edible and in fact, they may be poisonous.  False morels look similar to a morel so, just be careful…

A half pound of morels.  I always rinse mine before I use them.  The little ridges and pits in the mushrooms can contain dirt and other forest debris.  If you ever get a chance to purchase morels or go hunting for them, by all means, do it.  Morels taste amazing and are super simple to prepare.  You can saute them, fry them, put them in soups, sauces, or use them in ways you would white or crimini mushrooms.  I decided to take some of these mushrooms and put them in an omelet.  I prepared a basic 3 egg omelet and sauteed morels, shallots, thyme, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper in a bit of melted butter.  Filled the omelet with the morel mixture added some Havarti cheese and melted additional Havarti on top.  It was absolutely delightful! Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon cold water
  •  sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 cup morel mushrooms (cleaned and halved)
  • 1 Tbs shallots (minced)
  • 1/2  tsp fresh thyme (minced)
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 ounces havarti cheese
  • sprigs of fresh thyme for garnish

In a small bowl whisk vigorously together the eggs, water, salt and pepper.  In a nonstick pan on medium high heat add canola oil.  Add the egg mixture covering the entire pan.  Lift parts of the egg mixture with a spatula to allow egg mixture to go under the omelet and cook.  Cook until set.  Meanwhile in another pan, saute the morel mushrooms, shallots, thyme, salt and pepper in butter.  Add mushroom mixture to omelet.  Add 1 ounce Havarti cheese and fold.  Add remaining havarti to the top of the omelet, add a tsp of water, cover and melt.  Remove from pan and slide onto a plate.  Serve immediately.  Garnish with fresh sprigs of thyme.  Makes 1 omelet.