As Good As It Gets – 2015 Morels

stuufed afterNot so much the number of morels, but the “Company and Cooking” made this season special.


Here’s a link to a video made by Amy, the Knoxville News-Sentinel photographer who accompyoutubeanied Steve, Rich and I on a hunt last Thursday. The print version, by
Morgan Simmons, is subscriber only on the website.


With all the rain we had, and a cold winter, I expected it to be a bumper crop; however, it turned out to be mediocre for black morels based on the experience of myself and a number of other people. Yellow morels started out slow and then picked up. Overall, it seemed to be a good year in places. You just had to be there. As Ellen, the psychotherapist says, “Truth telling has to be with right timing and in the right place.” And that’s no lie!

spring1The signs of spring were confusing at best. We would be in places where the tree and ground cover suggested the timing was right, but no morels. Some traditional spots yielded good results, but others other drew a blank. Go figure. Once again, the season was summed up by my friend Rich, “Morel hunting teaches me more about patience, hope and humility than church does.”

RAIN YELLOWSAfter our walk in the rain, I got a few yellows over the weekend, and then joined Steve and Rich on Tues at another place. Total was 230, mostly yellows. For whatever reason, allergies, fatigue or you name, it my portion was only 40. Of course, I am always the low man when hunting with this pair of morel hounds. I have to remember to be a closer shadow :-) Again, lessons in humility.

spring2I’ve said before, never leave a ‘shroom behind. Well, this year I learned that again. My friend Joe has a spot where they come up gray and then turn to yellow. When the first ones emerged, we said, “Let’s measure their growth.” We left my business card next to one for scale and took a day 2 picture and a day 3 picture. On day 4, the morels had been cut (by someone who is known to us). I haven’t and won’t go back there. For me, morel huntign is more than bagging as much as you can. It’s about sharing the excitement of hunting, a ritual of renewal in the Spring, and renewing friendships. I leave the rest to the “baggers”.

I’m about done for the year, and ready for getting back on my bike. I’ve got  2 1/2 months to get in shape for the bicycle road race event in the Tennessee Senior Olympics. I did lose about 5 lbs this morel season – lots of ridges climbed. After that, June 19, it will be back in the woods or chanterelles !!


Potato & Ramps Hash

Potato and Ramp Hash (serves 4)

  • 2-3 large thin skin potatoes (I use Yukon Gold or other white/yellow  potato)
  • 4 oz.  pancetta or bacon, chopped
  • 2 – 3 Tb.  olive oil
  • a handful  (about 10) ramps, cleaned
  • salt and  pepper to taste

Heat a large black iron skillet  medium heat. Add pancetta, and cook for a few minutes before stirring. Meanwhile, dice potatoes (leaving skin on). Cook pancetta over medium/low heat, stirring occasionally until it begins to crisp and a good bit of fat renders out. Push pancetta to the sides of the pan and add diced potatoes to pan.

You may need to add oil at this point. Shake the pan a few times to get the potatoes coated with the oil pretty evenly.

Chop the ramps into small pieces, white parts and green. After 3 or 4 minutes, check the potatoes and stir well. Add the ramps to the skillet.  Stir often to distribute the ramps and pancetta throughout the potatoes, and to get them brown on all sides. The potatoes should take about 20 minutes to get a nice golden brown crisp throughout.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately topped with a pan-fried sunny side up or poached egg.

Wild Turkey w/Morel Sauce

Wild Turkey with Creamy Morel Sauce
Excellent with Potato & Ramp Hash)


4 prepared turkey breast cutlets (see below)
1 to 2 tablespoons margarine or butter
2 to 3 ounces fresh morels or 1/2 ounce dried morels, rehydrated
2 tablespoons sliced green onion (substitute ramps)
1 clove garlic, minced (substitute ramps)
1 1/4 cups half-and-half, light cream, or milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon dry sherry
Salt and pepper
Fresh herbs (optional)


Cut any large morels into bite-size strips. Sauté morels, green onion, and garlic (or substituted ramps) in the butter for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender.

Add flour to make a roux. Deglaze pan with sherry. Add cream and stir. Bring to boil for one minute. Reduce heat and reduce sauce to desired consistency, adding sherry to adjust.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon some of the sauce over turkey cutlets; Reserve some for the table when serving. If desired, garnish with fresh herbs. Note: Cutlets may have enough herbs for your taste in their coating. Makes 4 servings.

Wild Turkey Cutlets


4 ea. 4-5 oz.  of the breast. Note-the narrow end cuts near the pointed end of the breast may be butterflied. Pound to flatten to ½ thick slices

1.5 tsp. Salt
1 tsp Fresh Sage leaves, minced finely. Or ½ tsp dried rubbed sage
½ tsp. Fresh Thyme leaves minced finely. Or substitute ½ tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup All purpose flour
2 ea. Whole eggs
1 cup Milk
1 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs. (Panko or Japanese white breadcrumbs are excellent)
1-cup  vegetable oil for shallow-frying


Season the turkey on both sides to taste

Mix the eggs and the milk with a fork or wire whip thoroughly.

Bread the cutlets buy dredging first into the flour, coating but shaking off excess. Then into the egg wash, coating again. Finally dredge into the breadcrumbs and press slightly to adhere the crumbs to the cutlet. Place on plate or tray in a single layer.

Heat the oil to medium in a cast iron skillet or saute-frying pan. Add the cutlets and allow to cook golden brown over medium heat, turn and lightly brown the other side. The heat must be moderate to allow the cutlet to cook inside properly. Conversely, don’t put them into a cool pan or the cutlets will absorb fat needlessly. The temperature of the fat in the pan should be about 325 degrees F.

Remove the cutlets and transfer to a plate and tent with foil until serving.