Any mushroom hunter worth their salt should have a fried morel recipe. People will argue until the end of time as to what method is the best: some swear by saltines, some use just flour, some like egg batter.
For me, there’s only one way, the way my Grandmother made them, and the way my friends ask me to make them every year after our first successful hunt: a basic flour-egg-flour method.
As I’ve mentioned, every mushroom, especially every wild mushroom, is different in how you approach it from a technique standpoint. chanterelles require longer cooking/sauteing than most wild mushrooms, since they’re so firm.
Others like puffballs need to be caramelized and sauteed in a pan to taste like anything. Morels though, are delicate, and breading and frying them like this is a time-honored way of preparing these mushrooms across the United States.
Steamed in their natural juices
The reason breaded and fried morels taste so good isn’t just because they’re covered in a golden-brown, crispy coating, although it doesn’t hurt.
The thin outer layer of breading has a dual purpose: not only is the texture of the cap preserved from getting crunchy or overcooked when it exposed to high heat, the coating allows the mushrooms to steam-cook in their own juices, which seep out into the breading.
Mushrooms, are mostly water, coating them in a batter or dredge keeps their natural water in and cooks them in their own juice.
That’s why everyone raves about battered morels, and so and so’s grandma’s recipe, even though they might not be able to really say why, except that “they are so good”
Morels must be thoroughly cooked
A note of caution here. I’ve never had a problem cooking and eating morels like this, but I usually make large pans of them, and they take a while to cook, at least 10 minutes or so.
Remember that morels are toxic raw, and if they’re undercooked, they could make you and your loved ones sick, so if you want to cook a small batch, remember to cook them thoroughly (5-10 minutes) to avoid any issues.
Like I said, I’ve never had any problems, and this is a classic way to have morels, but you do need to take that into account.
How to make it
First, the best mushrooms for this are young, medium-sized ones. I find large mushrooms too big and heavy to enjoy like this. Secondly, the mushrooms need to be inspected and cleaned. Morels are wild creatures, so it’s important to clean them thoroughly to avoid eating sand and grit.
My process for cleaning is simple: cut the mushrooms in half, swish them in cool water, then drain on paper towels. I demonstrate this in the video at the end of this post.
While some people claim that you should soak morels in water, or, even worse-salt water to remove bugs, this isn’t true. Soaking morels basically ruins them, especially the salt water. If your morels are very large or buggy, dehydrate them, use them in a different recipe.
Once the morels are cleaned, all you need to do is dip them in seasoned flour, tap off the excess, dip in beaten egg, then the flour again, and put them into the pan, cooking them on medium-high heat until both sides are golden brown. Afterwards, sprinkle with salt and enjoy, preferably with a cold beer.
Simple Fried Or Breaded Morels
- 1.5 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons onion powder (optional) I make mine with dried ground ramp leaves instead
- 2 teaspoons fine salt or grind kosher salt in a spice grinder
- 4 large Eggs
- 2 Tablespoons Half and half, cream or milk
- 4 oz Fresh Morel Mushrooms small to medium sized. Large morels should be dehydrated or cooked as-is
- 3 oz (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) butter, oil, or a combination I use a 50/50 blend of oil like grapeseed or canola and salted butter since using only butter can burn.
- Mix the flour, dried ramp leaves if using, pepper, and salt.
- Wash the morels quickly or swish them in cold water to clean, then allow to drain on towels.
- Toss the morels in flour, then toss them in egg beaten in a little milk, as for scrambled eggs.
- Meanwhile, heat the pan with the butter and oil.
- Put the morels back in the flour, tap off the excess gently then put them straight into the frying pan.
- Cook until the flour coating is golden brown, if the coating soaks up to much oil and the pan gets dry, put some more oil or butter in. Make sure to thoroughly cook your morels. They should take a good 8-10 minutes for a batch this size. Take your time and don't burn them.
- When the morels are golden brown, remove them from the pan and drain off the fat on paper towels, seasoning with the nicest, flaked salt/kosher salt you can find. Cool for a moment, then eat. Keep the cold beer handy.