Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Suprising Discovery

No fun this weekend. Nope. None.

This was an outstanding weather weekend wasted on yard work, putting up screens, power washing the concrete and stone retaining walls along with the deck and a screen porch. It’s surprising how much filth and moss collects on property structures out here in the woods during the dark months.

Then I heard a voice. ”Hey, c’mere and take a look at this”, she said. As I got closer there was no doubt. We had one. It was the first ever on my property in sixteen years.

It was a morel mushroom, right there in the perennial garden. It looked a bit retarded compared to most I have eaten. Large and misshapen it was a novelty but not enough to use for a meal.

I have bagged morels in Michigan during spring fishing trips. We would walk in the woods behind the cabin and at times we could fill a grocery bag, but that was rare. In Michigan they tend to be orange in color and hard to find under the blanket of last autumn's leaves. A stick is needed to search near dead stumps where they are likely to be.

Morels will appear each year in the same places so when one discovers a good patch it becomes a closely guarded secret.

If you’ve never enjoyed a grilled prime filet of beef tenderloin (or venison) with a sautéed morel mushroom and garlic butter sauce on top you have never eaten a truly awesome (I don’t use that word loosely) meal.

Fresh morel mushrooms are safe to eat because no other fungus looks like a morel. They cannot be cultivated commercially and only appear in the last week of April and for a week or so in May. No other mushroom has the same nutty tenderness as a morel. Gourmet restaurants that offer morel recipes buy the dehydrated fungi and re-hydrate them. Morels are sold for over $20 a pound and since they weigh nothing you get a lot for your buck.

I am venturing into the local woods tomorrow to look for more. My body is way too exhausted to look for anything tonight but an easily grilled pork chop dinner.


Dan from Madison said...

Morels are indeed awesome.

Mark said...

You are right-on, Gerry. I'm just waiting for a bit of moisture now that highs are at 70 here in western Wisc.

I'm hoping to take my 4-year-old son on his first morel hunting trip to my parent's farm this week if the weather cooperates. Not even my Dad can get me to tell him about my secret patch.

If I remember correctly from a couple years ago, they were going for $20 per 1/4 lb at the farmer's market on the square in Madison. Dan can correct me if I'm mistaken.

Personally, I would never spoil my morels by adding them to a steak - just a little flour and salt then sautee with butter in an iron skillet.

Dan from Madison said...

Mark - I am with you on just sauteeing them in butter. Can't beat it.

As far as the price on Morels, I have never been to the farmers market here in Madison, probably the only notable event I have never attended here. It is pretty famous, too.