On Saturday, May 25, we went out with the Minnesota Mycological Society for a morel foray (location Top Secret, so don't ask!). It is a very late year for morels but they are out there; usually by now they are all done, but this year, due to the late spring, they are still in their infancy.
Some club members found just a few, while others did pretty well. Bruce and I did OK; we found a nice bunch of morels over the course of the day (see above for an example), and also found a beautiful oyster mushroom (below) in prime shape. So on Saturday night, I decided to use the oyster mushroom and some of the morels to make Mushrooms and Dumplings, a variation of a recipe in my book Abundantly Wild.
I cleaned the mushrooms (the oyster was particularly in need of attention; I use a very soft, small mushroom brush and a gentle stream of cold water) and cut them into bite-sized pieces. I had about 5 ounces of oyster mushrooms and 5 ounces of morels.
I also cut up some carrots and onions. I sauteed the carrots and onions for a bit in some olive oil (see recipe below), then added the mushrooms and sauteed them for a few minutes before adding some chicken broth and thyme. While that simmered for a few minutes, I mixed up a batch of dumplings, which I shaped gently into golfball-sized balls that I dropped onto the simmering stock.
That got cooked for about 10 minutes, then I covered the pot and simmered them for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I sauteed some diced bacon (Neuske's from Wittenburg, Wisconsin) with a bit of finely chopped onion, lashed that with rice vinegar and a bit of chicken broth and freshly ground black pepper, and tossed with leaf lettuce just before the stew was ready. What a nice way to finish off a great day in the field!
Morels, Oyster Mushrooms and Dumplings (adapted from Abundantly Wild by Teresa Marrone)
3 medium carrots, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 small onion, diced
2 teaspoons olive oil
10 to 12 ounces mixed oyster mushrooms and morels
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3 to 4 cups chicken broth*
Salt and pepper to taste
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon rubbed dried sage
2/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
In medium soup pot or Dutch oven,* saute carrots and onions in oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cut mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Add mushrooms and thyme to soup out when carrots and onions have sauteed for 5 minutes; saute for about 5 minutes longer.
While mushrooms are sauteeing, blend together all dumpling ingredients, stirring until flour is just moistened. Shape into golfball-sized dumplings. Drop onto simmering mushroom misture. Cook for 10 minutes. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in wide soup plates.
*For a stew-like mixture, use 3 cups of broth; for a more soup-like mixture, use 4 cups broth. Low sodium or regular broth both work fine, depending on your taste. If you're using a small-diameter soup pot rather than a Dutch oven, cut the dumpling ingredients to 2/3.