Every year around Mother’s Day here in Southern Michigan from the forest floor there sprouts a crop of edible and tasty fungi. The mushroom, genus Morchella, appears on the back five acres of my homestead which is largely forested with a variety of deciduous trees. I find most mushrooms at the base of or near larger ash trees.During the years in which I’ve inhabited this property I’ve searched for the fungi every Spring and each year the species, size and abundance varies. My personal belief is that it has much to do with the weather in the springtime. It seems like I have the best luck when the temperatures are warmer and stable. Wild swings in temperature, excessive rainfall or lack of, or extreme cold seems to reduce the yield considerably. The best season I remember? I recall warm and humid but not excessively moist Spring weather. I usually find the common or yellow or golden (M. esculenta) which seem to grow to the largest size, but sometimes I find the gray or white (M. deliciosa) or black (M. elata), the smallest in my experience. I’ve found mushrooms as large as beer cans and as small as my thumbnail. There is a species of poisonous fungi,sometimes called a False Morel,which have an appearance similar to true Morels. The cap appearance is slightly different and is attached to the stem at the apex, similar to a toad stool. The true Morelhas a stem and cap that is one continuous piece so that when sliced in half from cap to stem it is hollow. I’ve never found a False Morel .
So my dilemma is this:
I only found a few mushrooms this year. We had a very warm late winter followed by a cold spring. Should I cook the tasty morsels by coating with flour and frying in butter until golden crispy brown and enjoying them alone as a snack with salt and pepper? ….or, should I sauté them in butter with garlic and serve with seared venison back-strap?
I chose the latter and prepared my meal thusly:
- Rinse the mushrooms then slice in quarters vertically.
- Rinse the pieces to remove any dirt or insects.
- Melt 2T of real butter in a pan with a large amount of crushed garlic.
- On medium heat sauté until the mushrooms begin to shrink somewhat
- Partially thaw the frozen venison steaks and pat dry with paper towel
- Sprinkle with Lawry’s season salt and fry with 1T butter and 1T olive oil in a hot cast iron pan
- Add lots of garlic and some rosemary when you flip the steaks
- Serve with your favorite veggie like roasted potatoes with green beans and your favorite red wine