Wednesday, April 06, 2011
My First MO Morels of 2011
After having to be at the office in meetings all day Monday and Tuesday, I had a hard time sleeping last night knowing that I would finally be able to get out there and find my first MO morels of 2011. It was just like being a kid again the night before Christmas.
I started out and checked a few known producing spots more north, but a couple of quick walks and glances revealed nothing. So, I headed off further south where I met up with Camoshroomer and we hit the woods.
It wasn't long before Camo, who actually wasn't wearing camos for once, was bending over and picking a few. They were small but numerous. It is still early, so I spent a lot of time covering up youngens, not so much to hide them from others, as much to protect them from the sun and blowing wind threatening to dry them up. When I covered some, I would almost always uncover more even smaller ones which I then had to recover. It was a lot of work. But don't worry too much about drying, as you can see most were nice and fresh, and we only found a few with burnt tops.
Here is the first MO morel for 2011 for me. It was followed by quite a few more. Like I said, some were quite small and I left them behind, but I did pick quite a few small one inchers. Some may criticize me for doing so, arguing that I should leave them to grow. Despite that, I had two words that Camo had said earlier that day on my mind "popcorn morels."
Oh man, just like popcorn shrimp, there is little better than a handful of popcorn morels. To make it, all you do is select small morels, no larger than an inch and a half. DO NOT cut them up. Leave them whole. This recipe is best early on in the season when the bugs haven't gotten to the mushrooms and they haven't been dirtied too much by splashing hard rains. Once you have them selected give them a short bath in liquid. If you wash them, then don't dry them. If you don't wash them, then drop them quickly in a bowl of milk, wine, beer, whatever. After that you simply place them in a bag with flour and whatever seasoning you like and shake. Then straight into a pan of butter/oil to fry.
Being small they cook up fast and they taste so good. An old timer once had a theory as to why this was so. After going out on a short walk with him and finding a few young freshies, we were sitting around getting ready to eat them and he pondered. He said the one thing few folks know is that morels grow, but a little secret he knew was that the morel has all the flavor it will ever have the moment it is formed. He went on to explain that as they get bigger that flavor gets distributed throughout the mushroom, which is why those big and meaty yellows never quite have that exquisite taste of a small gray. Well, I don't know if that is quite the way it is, but after eating a mess of popcorn morels, I am hard pressed to argue. He may just be on to something.