The early spring foraging in our area is starting to round down now. The morels were overheated by the ridiculous heat wave last week, the fiddleheads have long passed and the leeks, while still around aren’t as good now. And these are just a few of my favorite things. While I’m sad to see it go, I’m also excited for all the wonderful veggies about to be available in the garden.
It’s a pretty awesome thing when morels just pop up in your back yard. It happened last year as well, but honestly, I didn’t expect that kind of luck twice. There were even more of them this year, which is super exciting. I’m not holding out hope for next year so as not to be disappointed. I know that I’m eventually going to have to learn how to actually find these guys out in the wild, but for now, this works. [Read more…]
Ah, fiddlehead season. It comes and goes in the blink of an eye. Literally, if you start to see those little leaves unfurl you have a day maybe two to get those little curls before they are all open and bitter. It’s for this reason that I love growing them at my house. It allows me to know exactly when to start foraging in our area.
I’m starting to feel my age. Not in the sense that I feel feeble and tired, though I’m pretty tired of this shoulder injury, but I’m feeling it on an intellectual/emotional level. We’ve got summer interns in the office now and nothing makes you feel old like having a couple cocky young things almost 10 years younger than you hanging around. I mean really, I was one of the youngest people in the office until last week, my whole life ahead of me and all that, now looking at them I almost feel bad because they have so much to learn and suddenly they are looking at me like I know it all.
Since spring has come Chuck and I have started to make walks around the yard a regular habit. It usually happens when we get home from work or on Saturday mornings before breakfast or even just randomly throughout the day if we are home. It’s a great way to look and talk over the projects that we have going and see how the garden is doing. It’s also a really great time to talk and reflect about the day ahead or behind or days far into the future. We have a lot of future plans to talk about between the two of us.
It was on one of these walks that we first stumbled across what looked like morels. Having never picked them without my dad around I sent one home with my mom to make sure before we harvested some. When we bought our house it was surrounded by trees that were owned by our neighbor, who had them removed shortly after we moved in, leaving behind a thick bed of wood chips from the process. These morels were found all along the edge of our property where the wood chips ended. I’m wondering if the small forest (she said it was something like 150 trees) was home to a well-developed morel colony and if these are all that could make their way out from the suppressing wood chips. I suppose we will never know, but I’ll take what I can get from my own back yard.
The first few morels were just sautéed up in a pan with some oil to see what they tasted like, and the second round was put into this dish. I made this meal on a whim last Sunday since it was one of the few nights that Chuck and I had alone together, we decided to have a kind of date night in. We cooked fiddleheads and morels from the back yard, micro greens from the garden, and venison that Chuck got last year. If only my potatoes had gown last year (and not gotten water logged) then all the main portions would have come from our own two hands. Creating a meal from things completely at my own hands is something I would like to make a regular occurrence one day and a goal that I’ve had for a very long time. We are getting closer every day and I’m so excited about that.
- 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, seperated
- 1 ½ cup chopped fresh morels
- 1 large shallot, chopped
- 1 lb venison roast, steak or loin
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup venison, beef or vegetable stock
- ¼ teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large, oven proof skillet heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. Add the morels and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until they have released all their water and continue to cook until the water has reduced. Add the shallot and sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often. Remove the vegetables from heat and set aside.
- Wipe out the pan and add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan.
- Generously season the meat with salt and pepper. Then place the meat in the pan. It should sizzle on contact. Sear the meat until a brown crust forms (about 2-3 minutes each) on each side.
- Remove from the stove top and place in the oven to cook for 15 to 20 minutes for rare to medium rare.
- Remove from oven and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
- While the meat rests return the pan to medium high heat. Add the final 2 tablespoons of butter and allow it to melt. Add the flour and stir well to make a smooth sauce. Deglaze the pan with the broth, thyme, and pepper and stir until well combined, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the morel shallot mixture and any liquid back into the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the morels are heated through. Stir to combine and remove from heat.
- Slice the meat and serve atop the morel gravy immediately.