Fair warning – I tend to get a wee bit overexcited when I talk about Morels, so bear that in mind when you read below.
Have you ever had a fried Morel Mushroom? If you haven’t had one, then you don’t know what you’re missing. I don’t have any record that Laura Ingalls Wilder actually cooked them, but Morels grow in southern Missouri (as well as other places across the Midwest) and any farm wife worth her salt would have. Sometimes people waste them cooking them other ways, but the only way to really do it is to fry them.
First you have to find them. They will sometimes be for sale in limited quantities at farmers markets or small grocery stores, but they tend to be expensive. So the practical thing to do is go mushroom hunting. You need to watch carefully, they like to hide. If you find one, be sure to look around they will almost always be a second one nearby. They come in two waves, first grey and then yellow tinged otherwise they look the same. Practiced hunters will have regular spots. Be sure to stay on your own property or ask permission to hunt. Watch the videos for more hints on mushroom hunting. Some people have a lot of morels every year, the rest of us hate them.
We fry them using our standard vegetable frying recipe with one exception, the salt water bath below. Exactly how much of the ingredients are needed for the solutions below depend on how many mushrooms you find. I’m doing my best to give estimates of measurements for the uninitiated, but honestly I follow Ma Ingalls’s pattern of knowing when something was enough by having grown up doing this.
When you first collect the Morels, soak them in a solution of salt water (add table salt to tap water). After they’ve soaked for at least an hour (normally I soak them overnight) cut them in half or more if they are large. Rinse them off. Then dip them in a mixture of several eggs, roughly 1/4 cup of milk, and some fresh ground pepper. Leave them soak for awhile, flipping them once in the middle of the soak. Then move on to the dry mix roughly 2/3rds flour to 1/3rd corn meal with a couple of tablespoons of corn starch and roughly a cup of crushed saltine crackers, all mixed well. Flip them over so both are covered. Then fry them one side at a time once they are golden brown. Sup with the gods.
I recently found the video below from Iowa Ingredient.
Also check out a helpful video on finding Morels from the MISSOURI Extension Service.
UPDATE August 13 2015: Note I noticed a typo and since I had to go in to fix it, I made a couple of slight edits for additional clarity.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.