Seasonal Flavors: The Secret Society of the Morel Mushroom

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Morel mushrooms (photo courtesy Joel Slezak)
Morel mushrooms (photo courtesy Joel Slezak)

Around this time of year in western Albemarle County there are two groups of people: those who know where to find the morels, and those who wish they did. Unfortunately, I’m a member of the latter group.

The morel is a beautiful edible mushroom, with a conical shaped cap and a kind of beehive, textured surface. Cut them open and they are hollow. The morels in Virginia grow now through June and are quite a delicacy.

If you own any land, people will come to your back door and say, “Oh look, I found these on your property and thought I’d bring you some.” And of course now that they have assuaged their guilt by bringing you some, they are also keeping a big pile for themselves! When you ask where they found them they become evasive. “Oh, you know, down by the stream. I really can’t remember.”  The morel society is a coy bunch of folks. They don’t want new members.

My son Joel claims he will show me the spot where he finds them nearby, and I believe him. He just hasn’t gotten around to it yet. I understand.

Last week some friends had the same experience. A local guy showed up with a huge bag of morels and left some with them, which they shared with me. He couldn’t quite describe to my friends where on their land he found them. He never does.

So my intention was to write about spinach this month, but instead I’ll tell you what I did with those gorgeous mushrooms. My asparagus is up and the hens are laying. And thank goodness for Goodwin Creek Farm and Bakery who supplies their wares to the Crozet Great Valu where I can buy my weekly loaf of delicious bread.

Maybe someday I’ll become a member of the Morel Secret Society. But until I do, I’m glad to have friends who are.

A Magnificient Breakfast for Two

  • 4 morel mushrooms
  • 6 asparagus spears 
  • 2 pieces of whole grain bread
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup melted butter

Wash and chop the morels and sauté lightly in a little butter.  Set aside.  Steam the asparagus.  Toast the bread.

In the top of a double boiler, over hot water, whisk the egg yolk with the lemon juice and add a bit of salt.  When it begins to thicken, continue whisking and drip the butter in a bit at a time, whisking until you have a beautiful hollandaise sauce.

Assemble by arranging the mushrooms on the toast, lay the asparagus on top and then pour on the sauce.

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