Any mushroom hunter worth their salt should know a fine 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. Hands down, the favorite of my friends and I is a basic flour-egg-flour method.
As I have 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 are so firm. Aborted entoloma mushrooms and puffballs really need to be caramelized and sauteed in a pan to taste like anything. Boletes and lobster mushrooms are often so firm they could be grilled whole but also like to be dried, since they are incredibly perishable: you may have only a day or two before they deteriorate. Morels are delicate, and breading and frying them is a time honored way of preparing our official Minnesota State Mushroom.
The reason breaded and fried morels taste so good isn’t just because they are covered in a crispy coating. This thin outer layer functions with 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 mushooms to steam cook.
Mushrooms, are mostly water, coating them in a batter or dredge keeps their natural water in and cooks them in their own juice. Thats 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”.
A plate of morels is a heavy thing to eat indeed, and benefits from an acidic condiment. Just like when you top fried fish with lemon juice, using something acidic alongside your morels will make it easier to eat more of them in a sitting.
Cook those morels through!
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.
Simple Fried Or Breaded Morels
- 1.5 cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 Tablespon dried ground ramp leaves or 2 teaspoons onion powder (optional)
- 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
- 3 oz (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) cooking fat* 50/50 blend of oil and salted butter, or use lard or cooking oil. 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 cooking fat.
- 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 in. Make sure to thoroughly cook your morels. They should take a good 8-10 minutes for a batch this size.
- 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.