Thursday, April 5, 2012

Morel To Love

I love gardening. I really do. Something about putting those seeds into the soil, watering them, weeding them, and just generally cheering them on is rewarding in more ways than I can possibly hope to articulate.

That said, it's wild foraging that really gets me pumped. It feels so primitive and exploratory. As Hubs put it the other day, when he was out in our forest hunting for morels, it's also so, so sensory. You really start looking at everything, slowly, lingeringly. You get quieter, step more lightly. You're not just on a walk in the woods, you're on the hunt, for food. The dynamic changes. You don't just see the forest-you see the trees, the moss, the dried leaves, the ferns, the woodpeckers, the snakes, everything!

As I mentioned last week, our friends recently shared some of their foraged morels with us. Such. Good. Friends. We combined some of their bounty with a bit we discovered ourselves in our forest (Hubs is turning into quite the forager, and he so looks the part, with his suspenders and his walking stick and his ginger-streaked beard, like a Scottish huntsman!). A frittata seemed like an ideal vessel for showcasing the mushrooms earthy, umami qualities. Paired with sweet/unctuous caramelized onions and topped with fresh mozzarella, this dish did the morels right.  

Morel, Caramelized Onion & Mozzarella Frittata
Serves: 2-4.

The Goods:
-2 pieces of bacon
-1/2 large onion, diced
-1 cup beef stock
-1/2 teaspoon sugar
-1 Tablespoon butter
-A handful of chopped morels
-5 eggs
-1/4 cup milk
-Several grinds black pepper
-Pinch of salt
-2-3 ounces fresh mozzarella

 The Deal:
1) Cook the bacon over medium heat in an oven-safe 12-inch skillet until lightly crispy. Remove the bacon, and set aside.
2) Add the diced onions to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes.
3) Add the stock and the sugar. Cook for about 25-30 minutes, until the onions are caramelized and there is no more liquid in the pan. Remove the onions from the pan, and set aside.
4) Add the butter to the pan, and when melted, add the morels. Cook for about 5 minutes, then remove the morels from the pan and set aside.
5) Turn the pan's heat down to low.
6) Whisk the eggs with the milk, salt, and pepper. Add the egg mixture to the pan, and cook for about 3-4 minutes.
7) Meanwhile, cut or tear the bacon into bite-sized pieces.
8) Distribute the bacon, morels, onion, and mozzarella across the top of the eggs.
9) Remove the pan from the stovetop, and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the eggs are set and the cheese begins to melt.
10) Remove from the oven, and let it sit for a few minutes.
11) Invert the frittata from the pan onto a platter, then invert it onto another platter so that it is right-side up again.
12) Cut with a pizza wheel, and serve.

Have you cooked with morels, or other foraged mushrooms? What did you make? The way I see it, the more recipes for foraged mushrooms I can find, the better! I should mention here that mushrooms found in the wild can be tasty and/or toxic. ONLY eat those mushrooms you have definitely identified to be safe. When in doubt, don't eat it. Take a seasoned forager with you until you know exactly what you're looking for. 


Joe and Jill said...

Foraging is something I've been thinking about getting into... It would be such a great activity for my kids.

jww said...

My husband and I savor those few spring weeks out of each year when the morels grace us with their bounty. Love 'em!

Erin said...

I really, really want to learn to forage more.

The only foraged mushrooms I've eaten are giant puffballs. We melted butter in a pan and added the enormous slices along with some herbs. A quick saute on each side and they were done. Pretty good, but I'd love to try some more flavourful mushrooms.

Unknown said...

Sounds amazing. i would love to learn to hunt for mushrooms. I've only see the deadly ones up in the mountains here, but I've heard tell that they is a mushroom hunting group. Mushrooms in the desert seems like a far off dream.

Anonymous said...

I agree about foraging vs. gardening. Both wonderful, but foraging opens your eyes to the wonders and resources that are right under our noses every day. And the act of foraging helps us forge a different connection with nature than gardening does. It feels primal and rich. All of this food is around us all of the time if we shift our perspective of what is edible.

Angela said...

Hey Ashley! Have you heard of "Wildman" Steve Brill? He teaches people how to identify edible wild plants! His website should I put this...adorable. Check him out for some fun foraging facts.
Here's a mushroom video from him:

EcoGrrl said...

We have an awesome mushroom dude at our farmers market which has been great -i love the ones that look like fur (lion?). Morels w goat cheese in a quiche are my fave :-)

jennifer said...

To be honest, my absolute favorite way to enjoy foraged mushrooms is a saute in butter and enjoyed with a glass of wine!

Dixie said...

That looks incredible! We had a couple of morels pop up a couple of weeks ago when it was so warm here. They usually aren't out until May. Now we are having hard freezes at night. I hope the morels will show up again. Have you tried to dehydrate them? That is a great way to keep them all winter. There is nothing like having reconstituted morels in the middle of winter!

CINDY said...

Woohoo, Ashley, you have REALLY good friends to share their morels with you! What an absolute treat. Here in Montana, morel spots along rivers are best kept secrets, not even to be shared with good friends! With August forest fires come spring morels, different, darker than the river guys. Yumm!

Unknown said...

I'm drooling! You could sell these frozen- ship me one ASAP! :)

Anonymous said...

I would love to learn how to forage, but after hearing stories about poisonous mushrooms, I think I need to find a friend to teach me as well! The recipe looks amazing though, and I can't wait to try it... but for now I'll have to substitute the morels with some mushrooms from the local farmer's market!
I'm a big fan of yours - love your blog and books!

Mamawolf said...

We just found our first Morels of the season a few days ago. My partner made this recipe with them for dinner last night. It was a winner! Loved by adults and children alike!
Thanks for a great recipe!

ashley english said...

Mamawolf (Nicole!)-Yay! I love hearing feedback when folks try our recipes. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. We couldn't get enough of that meaty, earthy deliciousness from the morels. Glad your stash is coming in now, too!