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Fresh Mushrooms: Bluefoot, Morrell, Porcini, Hen of the Woods -- Preparation ideas, techniques?

I've never prepared any of these mushrooms fresh before, and i want to be able to taste them each individually -- to compare/contrast the flavors, but i want to cook them all for one meal (tonight). Should i cook each batch separately, so their juices don't commingle and influence each other?

I was thinking of keeping the preparation simple, just a combination of pan-sauteed/braised with shallots and time. should i consider a splash of sherry, or would that obscure the taste of the mushrooms?

if anyone has tips about cooking times or other preparation ideas or techniques for any of these mushrooms, i'd appreciate it.

i was thinking about rounding out the dinner with a simple whole wheat pasta (maybe with some bacon?), a couple of eggs (scrambled, fried, soft-boiled), and braised arugula.

thanks,
alekz

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  1. Right now the only ones that I use are the morells. All I do is soak in lots of salt water to get out the bugs & dirt. Then rinse well. Dry off and dip into flour. Melt 1 stick of butter in a skillet and gry the morels till crisp on side 1 and flip over again till crisp. I then take out and in the skillet, I will take a piece of bread and lay just one side into butter sauce. Then take it out and put a thick layer of mushrooms on bread and there you have yourself a mushroon samich.
    Now the next morning if any are left, reheat skillet that you cooked them in last nite and heat them till crispy again and then scramble your eggs with them. Yummy again.
    You can also do the fry till crispy thing and put onto your steaks.
    Them is some good eating right there.
    Enjoy them

    2 Replies
    1. re: thecountryrose

      I wouldn't soak mushrooms, personally. I usually just wipe them clean with a damp brush or piece of kitchen roll.

      1. re: greedygirl

        Morels can't be wiped. They really do have to be soaked, however briefly. Bugs - many many bugs - hide in the little caverns. You really don't want to be biting into a slug.

    2. anyone? anything?

      3 Replies
      1. re: charlie_b

        well sorry charlie b, guess i am not anyone!

        1. re: thecountryrose

          Don't take it personally. The posting lag due to the site's ongoing technical problems meant that charlie b probably hadn't seen your post when s/he bumped the thread three minutes later.

          1. re: thecountryrose

            apologies, when i hit reply with the anyone comment, i was deep in page 2 with no replies. i must not have hit refresh right before my reply, but waited a few minutes.

            your reply is much appreciated, and i will follow your instructions...

        2. To retain their individual characters and ensure each is cooked to perfection, your best bet is to sauté them separately in butter, duck fat or, in the case of the porcini, olive oil. Shallot and parsley or thyme will complement their flavour; sherry will obscure it. After they're sautéed, you can return them all to the pan and quickly reheat them.

          That said, my favourite way to do a wild mushroom medley is in a 325º oven. Clean and trim the fungi and combine them in a baking dish with chopped shallot, a whole garlic clove, a sprig or two of thyme, a drizzle of olive oil and some water, chicken broth or white wine. Cover and roast until tender, 30-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper. While there's some melding of flavours, they retain their basic integrity. And you end up with some delicious mushroom liqueur.

          1 Reply
          1. re: carswell

            oooh, quite helpful. i imagine i end up with mixed mushroom liqueur, but each mushroom itself should still taste primarily and definitively of itself.

            now to decide which to follow. i'll report back with my results.

            thanks again,
            alekz

          2. Filets Mignons Country Club style (for 4)

            2 Tablesp unsalted butter
            1 Tablesp virgin olive oil
            1 lb. mixed domestic and wild mushrooms, cleaned and cut into pieces, if
            necessary
            4 shallots, finely sliced (1/2 cup)
            1/2 cup chopped herbs --like chives, parsley tarragon, etc. Thyme is a must.
            1/2 teasp salt
            fresh pepper
            4 slices fine-textured white bread, each about 4 in. diameter and 1/2 inch
            thick, crusts removed (Pep Farm white works for me)
            4 filets, 4 oz each

            Heat butter and 1 T olive oil until very hot and hazelnut in color. Add the
            mushrooms and saute over high heat for 10 seconds. Cover and continue to
            cook for 3 minutes. Uncover and cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes until
            dry. add the shallots, herbs, salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute longer.

            Lightly toast the sliced bread and arrange on a plate. Spoon the mushroom
            mixture on top of the toast. Top each with a filet sauteed in the mushroom pan, exactly as you like it.

            1. By now you'll have done whatever you did with them. Hope they were good.

              I only ever wipe mushrooms and would never put water anywhere near them . Then for the simplest preparation, just heat some olive oil and a few garlic slices. Take the garlic out (it'll have flavoured the oil by now); turn the heat up and fry the mushrooms (fast and hard). Drain & pile onto crostini with a little drizzle of more oil.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Harters

                if you know anything about morels, they must be soaked in salt water to get out the ants & slugs and any other little critters that are in the mushroom. any other type of mushroom can be wiped down with a cloth.

                1. re: thecountryrose

                  I agree, they can't be cleaned by just wiping. Those honeycomb crevices have lots of spaces for insects to hide.

                  Here's a picture:
                  http://www.northerncountrymorels.com/...

                  1. re: Rubee

                    good site, that gray looked yummy still. We have found over 11 lbs this year, about 5 lbs in freezer. this was a great year for them

                  2. re: thecountryrose

                    You would say Alice Waters doesn't know anything about morels? "Use as little water as possible to clean them ... Morels, however, may need to be soaked and rinsed if they have lots of sand embedded in their pitted caps." The Larousse Gastronomique? "[Cleaning morels] can be done either by rinsing the mushroom several times in water and then draining it or by cleaning the cap with a fine brush so as not to destroy its delicate scent." Richard Olney? "Morels ... should be split in two and well rinsed beneath a vigorous jet of water, then sponged dry before being put to cook." The Oxford Companion to Food? "Morels should be gathered in dry weather and carefully picked clean." Paul Bertolli? "Wild mushrooms [the context makes it clear this includes morels] should never be washed under water to remove the dirt or leaves clinging to them, or they will become soggy and diluted in flavour. Handling them gently, brush the caps and stems with a small vegetable brush, or towl. If there are any particularly soiled spots, implanted dirt, leaves, sand, or pine needles, cut or scrape them away with a knife." If the indexes to French-language cookbooks weren't so useless, I could easily quote a number of French chefs to the same effect. Chefs and cookbook writers may not always agree on how to clean fresh morels but none that I'm aware of in my sizable cookbook collection suggests soaking them in salt water and the majority recommend minimizing contact with any water.

                    1. re: thecountryrose

                      I have yet to suffer any ill effects.

                      1. re: Harters

                        Some people mind them, some people don't. ; )

                        Little white worms in my morels
                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/292874

                  3. Morel: pan saute with butter and salt. Nothing else needed to enjoy their flavor. IMO, even thyme would be too strong.

                    Chicken of the Woods: Lots of great texture here, very little flavor, at least with the ones I collected. Use as you would chicken. Sturdy enough to hold up to a stir fry. Cooking in duck fat as Carswell suggested would be pretty good. Maybe use them in a mushroom quesadilla?

                    Best of luck!

                    1. I am very curious: where do you live that you are getting fresh porcinis and bluefoots right now?

                      1. It may be too late for this dinner, but i have the most amazing recipe. It was generously given to a friend of mine from the Half Moon Restaurant & Saloon in Kennett Square PA. My friend made it for my hubby and I recently and it was to die for, seriously. Many thanks to the resto for sharing. I would suggest using many slices of ciabatta toasts as this makes enough for more than two toasts -

                        Half Moon Exotic Mushroom" recipe

                        2 oz of each: sliced portabellas, shitakes, mitakes, oyster mushrooms
                        2T olive oil to lightly coat a saute pan
                        1/2 tsp diced garlic
                        1/2 tsp diced shallots
                        1 tsp roasted garlic
                        1 tsp fresh basil
                        1 tsp fresh sage
                        1/4 cup cream sherry
                        1/4 cup beef stock reduction
                        1/4 imported gorgonzola cheese
                        1/4 cup sundried cranberries
                        1/4 cup spiced walnuts
                        2 ciabatta croutons: large slices of ciabatta bread toasted

                        Saute mushrooms in a hot saute pan coated with olive oil. Add raw garlic, roasted garlic, shallots, basil, sage for 1 to 2 min. Deglaze the pan by adding cream sherry & stock. Reduce this. Finish by stirring in walnuts, cranberries & gorgonzola. Serve on top of croutons.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: lynnlato

                          Wow. Thanks for sharing. That sounds delicious and I can't wait to try it!

                          1. re: Rubee

                            My pleasure. Words fail to convey how delicious this was. Here's a link to the resto's website too: http://www.halfmoonrestaurant.com/

                            Enjoy!

                            1. re: lynnlato

                              i know this is a very old feed, but i've been to half moon restaurant in kennett square and completely agree that this is one of the best things i've ever eaten. we ordered it twice, same night! we are recreating it today. yum!

                              1. re: sarcasticmuh4u

                                OMG, I've never been there - but when I do get up that way I'm going to make a special trip to Half Moon just for these. They are delicious. Enjoy!

                        2. Morels: Triple bread them. First: flour spiked with Lebanese za'atar, then egg, then panko seasoned with salt and pepper. Fry in clarified butter then dance around your kitchen.

                          www.zollipop.com

                           
                          1. I'm with the ones saying simple for the Morels- soak, clean, the fry in butter. Morels are delicious on their own.
                            We found a gigantic morel yesterday ( at least 6" by 4") that wasn't dried up yet. When we went to clean it, we found a giant slug sleeping quietly in the middle. I can't imagine just wiping these off. Not to mention they're normally grown in pretty sandy soil. I personally don't want a slimy, gritty mushroom.