When I wrote about morel mushrooms last month
, I thought the season was coming to an end as quickly as it started. But it kept raining. And the morels kept growing. And we kept heading out mushroom hunting, although we had lots of better things to do.
Nick proved to be a diligent and talented mushroom hunter.
Morel season is definitely winding down, although I hear the hardcore hunters amongst are still finding a few. Most of us are moving on to more summery foodie obsessions, like sliced tomatoes, grilled vegetables, and mojitos.
As an ode to the very special morel season we enjoyed in Jackson Hole, here are some of my favorite morel photos, along with my new favorite way to prepare them, in case you are lucky enough to have some stashed away in the freezer, waiting for a special occasion.
Late season hunting was most successful when traipsing through boggy wet recessions in the woods.
This is a very happy sight for a mushroom hunter...a cluster of morels, each as big as Nick's fist.
I spied this morel while kneeling down to take some wildflower photos.
Happiness is a sack filling up with mushrooms. Bogs are the perfect morel-hunting footwear.
The first morel of the season, dripping with dew.
Discovered this dress while window-shopping in a chic part of Rome. Oh, how I wanted that yellow morel dress.
Chris and I after hunting all day in the rain, cold and soggy, but happy.
Nick with the fruits of a full day of hunting. He quickly learned to request morels with a fried egg and toast for breakfast every day during morel season.
You know it's been a good year for morels when you see them at the grocery store.
This recipe for Morels with Madeira
caught my eye, while reading the Ad Hoc at Home
cookbook by Thomas Keller. According to Keller, the legendary chef of The French Laundry in Napa, California, and a dynasty of other restaurants, "Morels are not a mushroom you want to sear--they're best cooked gently in butter".
Seared morels are pretty darn good, especially on top of scrambled eggs or toasted bread with olive oil. I have been a big fan of the pan-fried morel
, but Keller's madeira sauce is winning me over.
Morels soak up the simple sauce of shallots, thyme, butter and madeira, a fortified wine that is a tad sweet. Keller serves his morels in madeira with caramelized sea scallops, but we served ours with just some toast to soak up the juices. I wish I had a picture of my morel-obsessed friends attacking the morels with madeira with their toasts, and then their fingers. This sauce will have you licking the bowl so you don't miss a drop.
Morels with Madeira
Adapted from Thomas Keller's recipe in Ad Hoc At Home.
Serves 6, as part of a larger meal.
- 1 1/2 lbs. morels
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped shallots
- 1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped thyme
- 1/4 cup good quality Madeira (I used Sandeman brand from Portugal, about $15 at Westside Wine and Liquor Store)
- Kosher salt
- 1 baguette, sliced and toasted
- Wash the morels in cool salty water, and dry thoroughly. If the morels are very large, halve or quarter them. Keep the smaller ones whole.
- Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go.
- Melt the butter in a very large frying pan (I used a wok) over medium heat.
- Add the shallots, and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes.
- Add the thyme and madeira, and bring to a simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary for about 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol.
- Add the morels, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until tender, about 6 minutes.
- Transfer to a warm bowl, and serve with toasted baguette slices.
Culinary word for today: Madeira
Just what is madeira wine? Named for the island in Portugal where it is made, madeira is a fortified wine that can range from quite dry to very sweet. Often served as an aperitif, or an after-dinner drink, it is also an excellent cooking wine for both sweet or savory dishes. When cooking with madeira, look for a product made in Portugal, and buy the best bottle you can afford. Once the alcohol cooks off, the flavor will be concentrated in your dish, and a cheap madeira could ruin it.