Missouri Morels

Q: Chef, do you have a favorite mushroom? I have tried to eat mushrooms—they smell wonderful, but I just can't past their ‘slimy’ texture. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Button mushrooms, the common mushroom you find at the grocery store, really are not the best ones to start with. Flavor is lacking, and the texture can be—if not cooked properly—wet and slimy.

Here in Missouri, you are lucky to have one of the most sought-after mushrooms in the world. The Missouri morel only appears four to five weeks a year in the spring. Finding this elusive delicacy is like catching a phantom. They are mainly secretly picked by ‘mushroom hunters’ throughout the state.

This year, the season started a few weeks ago and the cooler climate seems to be doing well for them. I have picked a few early in the season, and decided to add sautéed mushrooms to my pasta and red sauce, replacing meatballs for morels.

The best way to sauté mushrooms is in a hot pan with a little garlic. Allow the mushrooms to release their moisture. As you sauté, them you will notice water coming out of the mushrooms. This is where many people make the mistake of not cooking their mushrooms long enough. Pulling them now will give them that slimy texture that most people don't like. Keep sautéing until the mushrooms soak the liquid back up, and watch how they start to brown and caramelize.

Right before you pull them off, finish them with a little soft butter and salt and pepper.

As an extra bonus, I make my Italian sausage recipe and stuff the morels with the sausage before cooking.

Italian Sausage-Stuffed Morel Mushrooms

7 lb. pork shoulder

2 ¼ t salt

¾ t black pepper

3 ¾ t garlic powder

1/8 t coriander

1/8 T caraway seeds

1/8 T crushed red pepper

2 ¼ t fennel seed

1 T fresh basil, chopped

1 T fresh oregano, chopped

2 T water

3 dozen morel mushrooms


You can cut and grind your own pork (or ask your butcher), but don’t trim any fat from the shoulder.

Blend all ingredients together with the ground pork, and let rest for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Stuff morels with sausage. Saute mushrooms as directed above.

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