Seasonal Chef: Finding and Tasting the Elusive Morel Mushroom


Morels, a very special mushroom, are another sign that Spring has arrived and bringing us a true delicacy. Morels have never been successfully produced commercially. They are typically found growing in areas that have been ravage by forest fires. No one really knows why, perhaps the rich soil after the fire, but foragers target those areas specifically. Finding and tasting the elusive Morels mushrooms are well worth the effort. Be prepared though, because this lovely fungi is foraged by hand, they can be quite expensive.

The very best way to taste them is to simply sauté with a little butter and seasoning. Michael Ruhlman had an interesting article earlier this month about how to cook Morels.


You can find them in a dry state for most of the year, but getting them fresh happens April though June. Morels have an earthy fragrance with a delicate nutty flavor, and come in several colors, including black, tan and yellow. Their stems are short, thick and hollow.

Morels have a beautiful honeycomb-like crown, which leaves this little mushroom the ability to hang on to sand and dirt. The typical mushroom cleaning with a brush or towel just won’t do. Place them in a colander and give them a jostle around to loosen things up. Then, and only when you are ready to cook, you are going to have to give these ones a quick rinse with cool water in a colander. After that lay them out on a paper towel to dry a bit before slicing. My suggestion would be to cut them in half and/or quarters, long ways. You want to see their pretty shape.


On that note I went really simple with this week’s recipe. After a quick pan sear of my boneless pork chops,


I quartered the morels and pan sautéed them with a combination of butter and olive oil. You want to let the lovely liquid release into the pan, to help make the sauce.

P1000429After the liquid release I added a few handfuls of fresh spinach and a little cream. The chops were finished in the sauce and in less that 30 minutes you have a delicious dish.


Every now and then I suggest to my readers that if possible, you should try things like this at least once. Morels are pricey, but you won’t need a lot to make the experience worth it. Click here to see my recipe for Morels and Spinach Pan Sauce with Seared Pork Chops.

You can find me at the Hastings Farmers Market  on Saturday June 1 from 10:00-Noon, demoing a version of my new recipe. Stop by my table for a taste!

Buon Appetito!





About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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