Spring Morels

The month of May in Michigan is synonymous with Morel Mania, a spring ritual that shroomers (mushroom hunters) would never miss. Our state is a paradise for those sea sponge looking fungi and people come from all over the country to scavenge hunt here with nature. They're definitely a "food for the gods" and seeing as I just paid $38 a pound for them, if you've got the time to partake in Michigan's Morel Madness--go for it!

Hazards of mushroom hunting are few: black flies, mosquitoes and the most deadly of all--poison ivy. You'll need the proper equipment to begin your hunt: clothing to cover your legs, two pair of socks and boots; a guide if you've never done this before (they'll show you what to look for and where to find these masters of camouflage), a compass (for obvious reasons); a whistle (in case you get lost or find that huge crop); a hiking stick (which dubs as a leaf lifter where they're likely to hide); your Swiss Army knife (to cut them deftly); and a mesh or net bag to hang from your belt to gather all the shrooms (these bags let the moisture escape rather than sweat and spoil).

Consider it a supreme Michigan adventure. Once you taste a morel fried up in butter, you'll understand why this is considered a celebration of life. There are many organized hunts and morel festivals in cities like Boyne, Grayling and Lewiston. To cook up some Spring Morels in an entrée for two people, you'll need:

1 pound                pork cutlets, cut very thin
2 cups                 morel mushrooms
1/4 cup                butter
1/4 cup                dry white wine
1 cup                  of your favorite brown sauce
to taste               salt and pepper 

Take your pork cutlets and trim the fat off and pound them out. Melt the butter in a saute pan and add the cutlets and mushrooms. Saute two minutes, then add the white wine and cook 30 seconds. Add the brown sauce and finish with a little whole butter.

I would serve a Michigan wine with this that has a slight hint of sweetness. Try the Chateau Grand Traverse Dry Riesling. It's a marriage made in heaven. The "truffles of the north" are beckoning. Hie thee to the woods. And as always, a good cook appreciates nature and what it has to offer.

P.S. A good book to learn further about morels in this area is by Michigan author, Nancy Smith Weber and her book A Morel Hunter's Companion.