Morels Supreme

by Charmoon Richardson

Ingredients

Preparation

Rehydrate morels for 10 minutes in the freshly boiled water. Strain off liquid, carefully reserving it. Press the morels (while in strainer over draining bowl) to release extra liquid held by the mushrooms. Set liquid aside to settle briefly, then carefully decant into another bowl, or large measuring cup. Do not let any of the sediment at the bottom to go into the decanted morel stock. Test the sediment for grittiness with your finger. If there is a gritty sand in the sediment, the morels will need to be rinsed several times, until the rinsing water (in a bowl) remains clean after several rinsings. If the sediment is just soft and mushy, there is no need to rinse the mushrooms.

Cut the morels in halves or quarters if they are large. Peel and chop the garlic, or put into a garlic press.

Carefully decant (if necessary) the morel stock one more time, and put in saucepan on stove to heat.

Heat ½ cup water to a simmer.

Heat the butter in a good skillet or sauté pan, add the garlic, sauté briefly, then add the morels, stirring thoroughly. Continue to sauté on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until lightly seared. Keeping the heat up, add about ¼ cup of the just-simmered water. If it all vaporizes immediately, add a bit more, until the radical steam reaction has quieted down a bit. When the last moisture has about disappeared from the bottom of the pan, ladle in some of the simmering stock water until the morels are almost covered. Add 1 teaspoon tamari, and the salt, and cook at a high simmer for about 20 minutes, covered, stirring off and on, and adding more stock as the liquid level drops.

If the stock seems abundant, cook uncovered for the last 10 minutes or so. The goal is to use all the stock, but not run out too soon. The ideal is to have about ½ inch of liquid in the pan when the morels are cooked. Taste the broth in the pan after the last stock has gone in, to adjust tamari or salt.

If stock runs out, use simmering water, or try a splash or two of marsala, madeira, chardonnay, Johannesburg riesling, or similar wine, near the end of the cooking time. Be judicious—the morel taste can become compromised with the addition of other flavors.

When the morels are tender, mix in the grated Parmesan, then raise the heat a bit and add the cream or half-and-half (or some of each). Allow the cream to simmer, stirring, for 5 -10 minutes, to thicken. Add the caramelized onions, bring to simmer one more time, and serve on sourdough French bread, pasta, etc. Garnish with additional Parmesan if desired.

About the chef

Charmoon Richardson is a SOMA member and owner of Wild About Mushrooms. Charmoon has been collecting and studying wild mushrooms in Northern California for over 25 years. He teaches mushroom identification, is a past president of SOMA, wrote a column for SOMA News about mushroom foraging and cooking, and was the organizer of SOMA Camp for a number of years.