Food with Chef Karl - The Delightful, Delectable Morel Mushroom
If you were to ask me about ingredients I would select to be part of my last meal, I'm sure mushrooms would be one of them. In particular, Chanterelles along with the focus of this story- Morels.
There are a few things that signal Spring to me: Redbud trees blooming, picking ramps and the cooking and hunting of the treasured Morels! To clean morels, soak in cold water to help loosen the debris, moving them around with your hand. You can also cut them in half lengthwise as this will allow you to easily clean the hollow stems. Lift them out of the water and allow to drain. As there are sometimes bugs making a home inside the stems, I always cut them; I don't need an unexpected protein source!
Morels dehydrate well and are easy to store in this state. My favorite method is to sweat them in unsalted butter and minced shallots until about half cooked. After cooling, they are placed into a plastic bag, liquid and all, the air is squeezed out, sealed and then frozen. Stored this way, they keep a great texture and the liquid from them is wonderful.
There are so many recipes for morels, including the traditional “fried in breadcrumb” method that many Hoosier cooks use. I would suggest that you pick how you like things cooked and prepare the mushrooms that way. Personally, I love to stuff them since they are hollowed out naturally. Even better, I also love filling them with cooked ramps since they can be found growing together sometimes.
It’s time to get outside and find these treasures for yourself. Stop and think: do you know how much we pay to serve them in a restaurant? A LOT!
Recipe: Ramps and Sausage Stuffed Morels
Ingredients 20 large Morels washed, cleaned and dried. 3 Ramps, 1/4 inch-thick slices cut from cleaned bulb through leaves, sautéed in 2 tablespoon butter until soft (but do not brown) then cooled fully. 2/3 pound either mild or spicy Italian bulk sausage from your favorite vendor. Kosher salt and fine ground black pepper to taste (Tip: cook sausage and ramps together, then, prior to stuffing, season the mixture to taste). Lemon juice added as needed. This cuts the fat to balance the mixture; with this amount of sausage no more than a 1/4 teaspoon will be needed. Additional flavoring you desire: roast garlic, brandy and red wine come to mind. Olive oil as needed, fresh shredded Parmesan Cheese sprinkled over the top to finish.
Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees In mixing bowl, combine sausage and ramps and mix fully. Spoon mixture into disposable pastry bag( available at most stores, clear plastic cone shaped bags) cut off small end to create a 1/4- 3/8 inch opening. Tamp the bag to get mixture down to opening. Place tip of bag into stem of morel and squeeze pastry bag to fill the morel with sausage mix. If morel breaks open from filling, who cares? Place stuffed morels on small sheet pan side by side and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes until mushrooms are firm and cooked through. Remove from oven, drizzle with more olive oil and top with Parmesan cheese. Serve and enjoy!