Morel Morale

How’s your morel morale? Found any yet? Been gifted any?

I was!

I’ve come to accept that our woods just don’t give them up. After all, we live in a very pine-y patch of forest and morels prefer to sprout at the feet of deciduous trees. Erin Haefele, a friend of mine and a creative and accomplished cook,¬†took pity on me and threw me a bag from their most recent hunt, and she said, “I’ve cooked morels with everything, but you know, I think they’re really best with eggs.” I can’t disagree with that. Strong mushrooms that can hold their own–morels, porcini, even the truffles–all shine best when paired with the simplest, most elemental ingredients, things like potatoes, eggs, pasta, polenta. Morels are so softly flavorful, so earthy-fine, all they need is a backdrop. Just remember, butter is their patron saint. Olive oil and coconut oil and whatever-else oils are fine with other mushrooms, but morels demand a good creamy butter, something to seep into their honeycombing.

So after Hank went to school, I sat down in the kitchen with my computer and plotted an early lunch. (My breakfast on this particular day was 3 cups of black coffee, sipped slowly but deliberately, and by 11:00 I was ready for something substantial.)

I knew I wanted to follow Erin’s advice and spoon out the morels over eggs–but what eggs? Our daily scrambled eggs felt too ordinary. And then I remembered a funny little technique for poached scrambled eggs that might feel special enough. It was something that San Francisco chef Daniel Patterson stumbled upon one day in his home kitchen: he whisked together some eggs, as if to scramble, and then drizzled them into a pot of simmering salted water, cooking them gently, until the strands of egg coagulate into a soft mass. Well-drained and sauced with the morel mushrooms cooked slowly in lots of browned butter, the eggs taste like savory cloud mass. Delicious.



This was heavenly enough, but because I’m trying to wiggle in vegetables everywhere I can, I served it with a pile of shaved broccoli confetti, just wilted in butter and garlic. The woodsy morels were the star of the plate, but this broccoli, it is now a THING.

Happy hunting in the woods, all!



Morel Mushrooms with Poached Scrambled Eggs and Brown Butter

serves 2

8-10 medium morel mushrooms

3 farm eggs

1 tablespoon heavy cream

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 small head broccoli

2 cloves garlic, minced, halved

Slice the mushrooms lengthwise, drag them through a bath of warm water, then lay them to dry on a towel.

Shave off the broccoli buds from the tip of the head, working your way back until you hit the stem, making a pile of tiny broccoli confetti.

Heat a quart of water to simmering in a saucepot, and salt it heavily, as you do for cooking pasta. Whisk the eggs and cream together with a good pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper, and set aside.

Heat a small saute pan and add 4 tablespoons butter. When it foams, shake the pan, monitoring it closely, until it turns amber brown. Throw in the mushrooms and garlic and stir gently, cooking the mushrooms briefly, until wilted. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat another small saute pan over medium heat and add the remaining butter. When it melts, add the garlic, and when it sizzles, the broccoli. Cook, stirring, until the broccoli turns bright green. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook a minute or two longer, until tender.

Return the water in the saucepot to a simmer and swish your fork in the water to create a whirlpool action. Add the eggs and cook until just set. Pour them out carefully into a mesh sieve and let drain thoroughly before dividing between two plates. Sauce the eggs with the mushroom-butter mixture and serve with a pile of broccoli confetti on the side.

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