Learn about this fried morel mushrooms recipe for foraged mushrooms.
One of the safest mushrooms for the novice fungi hunter to seek is the morel. Happily they are also one of the most delicious. Once you’ve had these distinctive mushrooms pointed out to you by someone in the know, you are not likely to forget their distinctive appearance.
Morels are hollow, with a conical cap, and deeply pitted like a sea sponge. They range in color from cream to tan or yellow, with some varieties locally called gray or black. They have a short season in springtime only, beginning each year about the time the dogwoods bloom. They are found under a variety of trees, depending on soil chemistry.
The classic way to cook morels, which are not good raw, is to fry them.
Fried Morel Mushrooms Recipe
Begin by slicing the morels lengthwise and soaking them for half an hour in heavily salted water (approximately 1 heaping teaspoon per quart). You may see the carcasses of various insects in the water once you’ve done this. That’s the point. If they’re in the water, they’re not in your sauté pan.
Rinse in cold fresh water, and strain or pat dry.
Next, stir the mushrooms gently in a bowl containing enough buttermilk to coat them lightly. Dip them in saltine cracker crumbs (crushed with a rolling pin, or buzzed up in the food processor) until all are thoroughly coated.
Fry the morels on both sides in enough lard to float them, keeping the lard sizzling hot.
Remove each mushroom as it becomes a pretty golden brown. Keep warm in a nest of paper towels until all are done.
Serve with a fresh spring salad and your favorite cream soup.
Originally published as “Fry Up a Batch of Morels” March/April 2007 GRIT MAGAZINE.