Sunday, May 31, 2009

More More Morels

May 2009 495  Morels are not exactly the kind of mushroom you can run out and readily find in the stores. For the short season they make their appearance in the spring, they’re not that easy to find in the woods either, unless you know what to look for and where to look.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to look.  My brother Frank did. He’s an experienced mycologist from way back and knows his amanita from his boletus, if you know what I mean.

When he called and offered to bring me some morels, I grabbed the chance and offered to cook some for him, as well as some venison from his last hunt in December.  It’s been in the freezer for several months and it was time to use it before the weather got really warm. Besides, I needed to show him my appreciation for his hunting/gathering skills so he’ll keep me in mind when he heads out  deep-sea fishing for tuna this summer (Are you reading this Frank?) Yeah, my brother is one of those people who could easily live off the land (and sea) with the survival skills he’s honed over the years. But what would you expect from a guy who was holed up in a nuclear sub for months at a time (after his cushy stint on the USS Constitution).

I’ll save the details on the venison until at least the fall, when you’ll feel like braising again, but suffice it to say that after adding four cups of wine and simmering the roast for four hours, a couple of people at the table (who shall remain nameless) went back for seconds, and then for thirds. But more about that another time.

If it had been winter, I’d have served the venison with polenta, but in a nod to the season and in deference to the morels that were begging to be used, I made a risotto instead. It’s basically the same technique as any other risotto, but the ingredients this time were morels and zucchini.  

The morels Frank brought in the photo above were dried, so I needed to rehydrate them first. Here’s what they looked like after an hour or so in room temperature water. Sort of like little brown sponges.

May 2009 442 

And here’s what the finished risotto looked like:

May 2009 450

Here’s the recipe. Now I know that morels aren’t available at your corner store and not everybody has a brother Frank like mine, so just substitute dried porcini if you can’t get morels. You could even use fresh button mushrooms, but they wouldn’t have the same earthy, woodsy flavor.

Risotto with morels and zucchini

1 T. olive oil

1 T. butter

1 medium onion, finely minced

1 zucchini, diced

1 cup dried morels, rehydrated in water (slice them if large, otherwise leave whole)

2 cups arborio rice

1 cup dry white wine

about 4 cups chicken broth

salt, pepper

2 T. fresh thyme, minced

2 T. butter

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

minced parsley

Add the 1 T. olive oil and butter to a pan and saute the onion briefly, then add the zucchini and saute for a few minutes. Add the rehydrated morels and saute for a few minutes. Here’s what it will look like:

May 2009 443

Then add the rice to the skillet and cook for a couple of minutes over medium heat. Add the white wine all at once. Stir over medium heat and slowly begin to add the chicken broth, a ladleful at a time. Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Keep stirring the rice and adding more broth each time the liquid starts to evaporate. Continue this process for about 20 minutes, or until the rice seems cooked and becomes “creamy” looking.  Remove from the heat, add the remaining 2 T. butter and the parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the minced parsley on top.


  1. I would love morels in Risotto..Not only are your photographs write so well also.
    It's Morel time I see for certain.What a lucky girl to get so many compared to my 3:)

  2. This is very new to me, hope I can try some.

  3. did I forget to give you my phone number? this looks excellent.

  4. Wow! Morels in Risotto...
    Delicious! I had some when I was in Chicago last week and it was delicious.
    Thank for sharing your recipe:)

    And you can visit me if I can visit you:)


  5. What a great way to enjoy morel mushrooms!

  6. This SUPERB Linda. Wow, I can only with to find Morels as fresh as yours.

  7. What a treat to have fresh morels and a bigger treat to make a beautiful risotto with them!

  8. Outstanding recipe! Wish I could find some gorgeous morels like this.

  9. This looks delicious!!

    Are you going to post any venison recipes or do you have any you could share? Deer is almost always in my freezer.

  10. I'm thoroughly jealous of your mushroom-picking brother!! That's a skill I've always wanted to learn, but where I live mushroom-picking isn't exactly available! Good thing is, we do have dried morels year-round, so no excuse for not making this lovely dish!
    Thanks Linda :)

  11. What a nice brother Frank you have to bring you such a tasty gift! I love what you did with them, that risotto looks to die for!

  12. Looks delicious. Wish I could find some of those morels around here.

  13. Mushroom risotto is one of my all time favorite dishes and I think the morels would give it a different twist to my usual porcinis. Great recipe!

  14. I just love morels! I usually saute them in a little butter, but I can imagine how good they'd be in risotto.

  15. How great to receive some morels! My uncle used to hunt them and share with us when I was growing up in Illinois. I miss them every spring!

  16. Hot damn you're lucky to have a bro that knows his 'shrooms. I hope you fed him well with that tasty risotto.

  17. Just a gorgeous, gorgeous dish! There was a well-regarded restaurant just north of the Twin Cities (on the state line between MN and WI) whose spring morel festival and accompanying menu were incredibly popular. Unfortunately, they recently closed - before I had a chance to visit. Now I'm obsessed with morels, especially if they're in a risotta as fantastic as this.

  18. MMmmmmm--- I love mushrooms of all kinds! You are both such talented siblings.

  19. That looks like a great way to enjoy some morel mushrooms!

  20. Linda... you know I like getting out there and foraging, so this post made my day. I can spot a hen of the woods on the side of the road driving 50mph but I can't find a morel to save my life!! so you're brother is my hero.

  21. Hi Linda,

    Your brother must be wonderful! Look at all those morels, and you capture the light on them so well. The risotto is beautiful too.


  22. Gorgeous shrooms! Aren't you the lucky one.. the risotto.. an absolute fave of mine. Looks fabulous!

  23. I am so jealous-I love morels and have only ever bought a really tiny amount of fresh ones since they're so expensive!