It is that time of year again, the very special time when I thank Scott Broste for introducing me to the morel mushroom.
A few years ago, Scott took my husband out morel hunting. At that time, I had never tasted a morel mushroom; but, I soon discovered that they are a delicacy of spring. Claud and Scott took off to who knows where and they were gone for a few hours. People rarely share their morel hunting ground with other people because it is like a magic breeding ground filled with treasures. Everyone can't know about it or there would be none left. So, it was very special for Claud to be taken to one of these magnificent places.
If you go morel hunting and you are a novice, be sure to take someone with you who knows what a morel looks like. Apparently, there are similar looking mushrooms called false morels which are poisonous. Luckily, Claud had an expert with him to teach him the ropes.
Herb-rubbed pork chops with a creamy morel sauce.
Bluebells growing near the morel grounds.
Morel mushrooms drying on a screen.
Morels pop up in the early spring when the ground is warming up. After a night of rain is usually an ideal day to go hunting. They need warm, damp ground to grow in. They prefer the shade of poplar, elm, ash, maple and fruit trees. They also thrive in mossy areas and near dead tree stumps. I still don't know exactly where Claud and Scott ventured that day but the hunt was a success.
Scott and Claud returned dirty from the hunt and Claud had a tick on his ankle. More importantly, they came home with a couple of bags of fresh morel mushrooms. These morels were all different sizes and the tops had a honey comb shape to them. Scott showed us how to lay them out on a screen to dry for a couple of days. I was intrigued. I wondered how they would taste.
A few days later, the sun was shining and we decided to grill some pork chops on the barbeque. Claud said he would make a sauce out of the mushrooms to go over the pork chops. I thought that sounded like a fantastic idea. I poured the dried mushrooms into a bowl of water to reconstitute while Claud covered the pork chops with an herb rub and turned on the grill.
Herb rubbed pork chops
with a creamy morel sauce
Time: 30 minutes
4 pork chops
2 Tbsp. dried rosemary
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 C. plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 C. dry red wine
1/4 C. cream
1 C. morel mushrooms, reconstituted
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the rosemary, thyme, onion powder, salt, pepper and 1/4 C. olive oil in a small bowl. Spread all over the pork chops. Place on a hot grill. Cook to your liking, depending on the thickness of the chops.
In a saut pan, heat the remaining Tbsp. olive oil. Saut the onion for ten minutes. Add the garlic for another minute. Add the red wine and cream. Pour in the morel mushrooms with a bit of the water used to reconstitute (1/2 cup). Let this simmer for about ten minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Take the chops off of the grill and pour the sauce over them. Serve with a salad or vegetable. Enjoy.
We made the sauce out of red wine, onions, garlic, cream and morel mushrooms. This sauce made the pork chops taste so delicious. The flavor of the morel mushroom helped to create a magical sauce. Morels have a distinctive earthy, nutty, steak like flavor, similar to a portabella (but more flavorful). The taste is smoky and intense which is perfect for making a sauce. I felt like I could eat a whole bowl of the sauce on its own. I knew I had discovered a new favorite food. Thank you, Scott.
Since that day, Claud has discovered a couple of morel hunting spots of his own. Last week he took our son, Jack, out with him. They were amazed to discover that the mushroom growing grounds were covered with wild blue bells. The photos were magnificent. We had seen blue bells growing in the forest in England where Claud grew up. We never before saw them growing like this here in the states. I was so happy Jack was able to experience this with his father. They came home with memories, photographs, and yes, a bag of mushrooms as well. Jack even carried back a tick with him... eewww.
We fired up the grill and threw on a few pork chops to make what has now become our traditional morel mushroom dish...herb rubbed pork chops with a creamy morel sauce. As usual, it tasted divine.