Our guide to Morel mushrooms in McCall, Idaho
Morel mushrooms are basically the official food of McCall. They are easy to identify, widespread and give us all a reason to get out of the house come spring. Not to mention that Morels are delicious! If you are headed out to find your own batch of Morels, we have a few tips to get you started. Read on for our recommendations on foraging, cleaning, cooking and a special recipe from Chef Gary Kucy of Rupert’s at Hotel McCall to get the most out of your Morels.
- The Perfect Temperature :: Morels like spring temperatures in McCall. Keep an eye on the thermometer and when daytime temps get to be around 60 degrees and nighttime temps hover around 40 degrees, you know you are in the right season.
- Slopeside Skills :: Stay on the sunny side of the mountain. These little gems often pop up on south-facing slopes first since the sun warms the soil earlier than other areas. As the season progresses, you can wander toward north-facing slopes.
- Be A Tree-Hugger :: Morels love trees. While these mushrooms often grow wherever the wind blows them, you can usually rely on finding a few beneath the shelter of trees, along the edge of forested areas. And don’t discount dead or dying trees – they can often be a haven for Morels.
- Soil Scientist :: Keep soil types in mind when scouting for these mushrooms. Morels like loamy soil that is well-drained. They often thrive in disturbed ground such as that found in burn sites or logging areas.
- Rain Check :: Warm spring rain can be just the ticket to get a Morel to show itself. If the temperature is right (see tip #1) and the rain is falling, plan to hunt Morels the following day.
- The Basics :: While picking, cut off the dirt end of the stem before placing them in your bag. This way you won’t add a lot of extra work for yourself when you get them home! Don’t clean them until you are ready to cook them.
- Cleaning Fresh Morels :: Rinse full mushrooms in cold water. Once rinsed, lay in a single layer on a towel to briefly dry.
- Cleaning Older Morels :: Give these mushrooms a quick soak in warm, salted water. This will help to pull out any bugs or debris that may be lurking. After soaking, lay in a single layer on a town to briefly dry.
It is important to fully cook your Morels. They are already flavorful…you won’t need to add a lot of seasoning to enjoy. Here are two of our favorite cooking methods:
- Prepare your Morels by slicing crosswise into the rings, half lengthwise or quarter lengthwise. For smaller mushrooms, leave them whole.
- Add a single layer of mushrooms to hot sauté pan (do not overload or crowd the pan).
- Cook until the moisture has been purged and cooked off.
- Add a small pat of butter, minced garlic, shallot and salt and pepper.
- Cook for about a minute.
- Serve on toasted baguette slices. Also a great addition to pasta or eggs.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place an empty baking sheet in the oven while it heats.
- Prepare your Morels by slicing in half lengthwise. If small, keep whole. You will want larger pieces for this cooking method.
- Toss Morels with olive oil, salt and pepper and minced garlic.
- Once pan has heated for 5 minutes, pour seasoned mushrooms onto baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown and get crispy.
- Add to salads, wrap in crepes or pair with fontina cheese.
FEATURE RECIPE: Morel Mushroom and Pancetta Frittata
Chef Gary Kucy, Rupert’s at Hotel McCall
1 Tbsp Butter
1/4 Cup Morel Mushrooms, sliced
5 Slices Pancetta
1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Herbs (Parsley & Thyme)
6 Large Eggs
2 Tbsp Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 Oz. Goat Cheese
- In a medium size non-stick pan (8”), melt butter and sauté pancetta and mushrooms for 3-4 minutes until pancetta begins to crisp.
- In a medium bowl whisk eggs, cream, salt and pepper, and herbs together.
- Pour over mushroom and pancetta mixture.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until eggs begin to set.
- Place in 350 degree oven for approximately 12 minutes until eggs are set and top begins to brown.
- Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve either hot or cold.