Mushroom Hunting in Oregon-Precious on the line again

The people who know me well in my life know that I am probably the most competitive person in the world.  I have been told I am a Jack Russel Terrier, never back down to a fight, even when I am know the odds are against me.  However, I have never been a man to kick another man when he is down…until now.  I knew that the fight was over  of Trevor in the truck on drive to the mountains.  He even made me meet him at the donut shop.  Who eats donuts at 43 years old anymore?  Unless you’re a cop?  I smelled blood in the water almost instantly.  I do not have a lot of photos, I had to use his I phone and email them to me.  This is a sad day for me, and the “Precious Ring” that lays upon my finger is just one that reminds me of the friend I once used to have that was competitor in the field of mushroom battle.

This was after I found about 9 morels, and focused my attention to the Infamous King Bolete.

The bugs did not even have a chance to get them.

The morel mushrooms still have not shown in full force.  The black ones have a little, the blondes at this point are a no-show and I fear that this year may be a bust.  I started out by finding a few, yelling to my friend who only took the mental punches in the forest and went into a mental frenzy.  I knew I had him when he went “Morel Mode” and started speed walking.  He actually stepped over my largest find, which was the size of a football.  I found 6 King Boletes today, and about 11 black morels.

I had to educate him a little.

We only spent a few hours in the woods.  I knew the battle was over before it began.  I guess it was a mushroom version of Bush’s “Shock and Awe” in Iraq, I unlike President Bush never found any glory in the tactic itself.

If this is not the look of defeat, I am not sure I know what it is. Tyson had the same look when he started biting Holyfield’s ear in the title bout.

On the way home, my long time friend fell asleep for the first time in the 25 years we have known each other that I can remember.  He stayed asleep, as my diesel engine roared and passed cars for about an hour.  He finally woke up and said “Wow, we are almost home. You were hauling ass!”

I replied “That is the sour taste of defeat that is running rampant in your veins like a venomous poison.”  He said nothing, and changed the subject to what Howard Stern was saying on the radio as if he was paying attention.

I remain the King, and the soul owner of “Precious”, and 2012 Undefeated Heavy Weight Champion of Our Mushroom World.  I know some of you think that I am a little hard on Trevor, but keep in mind this is the same man that thought I snuck up into his room at 4 am and stole his underwear in complete darkness while he and his wife slept because I apparently didn’t have any.  His wife protected my honor and told him to go down and look in his laundry basket….then asked “Why in the hell would you think Shay would want to wear your underwear?”

That little one on the lower left of the frame, the one that looks like a peanut. That is Trevor’s contribution. I am gonna eat that with an egg tomorrow.

Wild Mushroom Risotto with Pesto Scallops

I said I was going to post it and true to my word, I finally got around to it.   This one goes great with the “Springer Salmon Cedar Plank” recipe.  I decided for the blog that I would do it as a main course.  So I added “Pesto Scallops” to the dish, and it truly came out excellent.  The first thing I am going to tell you about this dish is that it is not difficult, but Risotto takes a lot of patience and time.  If this is your first time, try it as a main dish.  That way your are not trying to time it with three other things that you are going to plate.  If you cook risotto too long it gets mushy, too short it is too crunchy. 

Serves 4

  • 6 cups of Chicken broth (I use homemade, but the better quality of broth the better it will be).
  • 4 oz of dried morels (you can use porcini if you like). soaked 30 minutes in 1 cup of water. Chop the mushrooms and strain and reserve liquid for later use.
  • 8 tbs. of butter
  • 1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 cups of assorted fresh mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and chopped.
  • 1 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup of Parmigano-Reggiano cheese
  • 16 Scallops

Heat the chicken broth along with the reserved strained morels liquid, lower to heat to a simmer.  In a cooking pot ( I use a Le Cruset oven pot) melt 4 tablespoons of butter and stir in the rice, toasting just until it starts to sizzle and pop, sometimes about 2-3 minutes.  Do not let it color!  Stir in the morels and the fresh mushrooms and the wine.

Add our rice butter, mushrooms and the wine.

Keep stirring the risotto and wine, when all the liquid of the wine disappears, after about 4  minutes, add enough of the broth from the other pan to cover your rice.  This should be on a simmer all the way thru this long process.  Hope your arm is in shape, because you need to constantly stir to keep from sticking.  When the broth is almost gone, add more broth to cover the rice again.  Add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. When the liquid evaporates, add more broth to cover for the third time.

Take out the scallops and dry with paper towel while the rice is cooking down on the third time.  Salt and pepper the scallops and get your skillet hot.

Dry scallops and then salt and pepper them.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place your scallops on high heat cooking them for about four minutes on each side.

Brown the scallops on high heat.

After the broth evaporates from the thirds time the rice should be al dente, about 25 minutes of cooking time.  Bite into the grain of the rice, you should see a white pin dot in the center.  Take the risotto off the heat.  Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and stir in for a few seconds.  Add the parsley and the grated parmigiano and salt to taste.  Cover pot. 

The risotto is still burning off the liquid

Finish the scallops on both sides.

Scallops should not be black, but brown.

Plate the risotto (it should not be runny at all).  Add the scallops to the top.  I put a little dollop of homemade pesto on the top of the scallops.  The scallops should not be over cooked but a slight pink.

I put a little dollop of pesto and a pinch of grated Parmigiano on top of each scallop.

I prefer to make the pesto myself, I just happened to have some in the fridge.  However, it is not necessary.  This is a great side dish, and also an awesome main course.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 

The Hunting Chef 

The perfect bite!

Elk Lasagna-The Classic

Sometimes you just have to have a classic dish that you can go too in your recipe collection in a flash.  Something that is fast, but darn good and definitely a step above what everyone else makes.  So my people of the hunting chef blog, I present to you Elk lasagna Shay Nanna style.  I am going to do this step by step so you understand exactly how to do this, so it turns out perfect.

First thing I do is let my elk burger thaw out correctly.  This means naturally, no microwave or other odd techniques.  Take it out of the freezer and let it come to room temperature on the counter.  You can use elk or bison sausage if you choose.  Then I toss it in and cook it over medium heat.

Brown the meat

Brown the meat, do not over cook it.  Then strain it.  Notice that the meat is lumpy, well that there is what I call a texture deal killer.  Lasagna is about texture and taste, nobody likes to bite into a big lump of meat.  So I put my meat after I strain it into a processor.

Get yourself a mini food processor from Costco for 28 bucks

This is what it should look like after pulsing it for 15 seconds

Your elk meat should have this consistency not too smooth, but fine.

Now I take a 28 oz. can of San Marzano roasted tomatoes, it has to be San Marzano they are simply the best.  If you do not believe me do your own taste test. 

  1. 28 oz can of San Marzano roasted tomatoes from Italy.
  2. One small onion
  3. Four peeled garlic cloves
  4. 7 fresh basil leaves
  5. teaspoon of red chili flakes, add more if you want more kick to taste.
  6. Salt and Pepper to taste

Chop your onion and add it to the pan with olive oil with the garlic and brown them both, and then add the San Marzano tomatoes.  Tear the basil into small pieces and add it to the sauce with the red chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste (don’t be afraid of it). Then simmer for 15 minutes.  Keep a cup and half for later of the sauce. Remove the sauce and add into the mini food processor or blender until smooth, then put back into the pan and add meat.

The meat sauce

I like to use dried morels that I dehydrated from last spring so I add warm water and about a cup of dried morels for about 20 minutes.  Do not throw the water away.

rehydrated the Morels with warm water

I then take my morels and add them into cast iron pan with butter.  I take about 1/4 cup of the water and add that to the pan as well and cook them until they are soft and all the juices are gone.

fry them on medium high for about 5 minutes

Then add them to the sauce meat mixture that is simmering on low heat.

These little morels are the kicker to seal the deal in flavor

Let the pan simmer for after you mix it all up for about 3 minutes more and then turn off the burner and let it sit.

Time to make the ricotta filling.
  1. 1 16 oz. container of ricotta
  2. 1 egg
  3. 1 cup of good quality grated mozzarella.  I use fresh
  4. 1/2 cup of good quality parmesan Reggiano.
  5. 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  6. salt and pepper to taste

Take a bowl and mix all of the above to taste, do not be afraid of the salt and pepper.

Fold all the ricotta and cheese mixture together

 Take a casserole dish and spray it with pam and take about 1/2 cup of the red sauce and spread it at the bottom of the dish and take your lasagna pasta and lay over the top.

Fresh pasta is always better, but time is the essence so I used the no need to boil fast kind

Then take a spatula and layer the ricotta over the pasta, do not go crazy because you are going to have to repeat this step.  Remember you can push with the pasta down to evenly distribute the sauce and mixture so do not put too much down.

Repeat this three times, four if you have enough ingredients to pull it off.  You definitely have to make it at least three times!

Ready for the oven

I finish off the top with the remainder red sauce I kept before the meat was added and little pieces of the left over mozzarella I did not grate.  Toss it in your oven covered with aluminum foil for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Then remove the foil and bake until brown on top for 20 more minutes.  Once finished take it out and let cool for 10-15 minutes and cut yourself a slab.  I usually dust it with some grated parmesan when I serve it.

 

Behold the Elk lasagna Classic

Then plate it with your salad of choice and some garlic bread and pour your friends a good bottle of Chianti.  The flavors are pretty intense, the morels bring it together and your friends will love it.  I like to serve this to people who hate wild game and then not tell them that they ate it until after dinner.  They are always surprised, and I am always surprised that they would not like wild game in the first place.

Try the recipe, thank me later.

Hunting Chef

 

 

Morel Mushroom, Dijon, Rosemary Lamb Chops

Okay sports fans here is the deal.  Lamb chops are the bomb.  I have made them for parties, and catered dinners and they are always the big hit of the party.  I always serve them first too when everyone is still sober so the remember the one thing that tasted great.  It is relatively easy, all you need is a rack of lamb which you can get at Costco.

Rack of lamb being cut into lamp chops

Just take a sharp knife and start cutting in between the ribs.  I like to cut any fat off the chops because lamb fat is nasty, and if you like lamb fat then you are naturally a nasty person.  Just saying.

Morel mushrooms I picked a month ago rehydrating in warm water

Remember the morel’s I picked a few months ago? I am going to hydrate them in warm water, about 2 cups of water.

Pounding out the chops

Do not start swinging at these chops like ole John Henry on the rail road tracks.  Take a plastic bag and gently pound with a mallet to flatten the meat a little bit….gently.

Morel mushroom liquid reduction

Pour the liquid from the bowl of morel’s you were using to hydrate the mushrooms. Bring to a boil, add 3 tablespoons of butter,  2 tablespoons of Dijon, a few love dashes of pepper.  Boil for about 3-5 minutes until it reduces to a 1/3rd.

Then take 3 whole clove garlic, 3 sprigs of rosemary, the morels 1/2 cup, salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and put in a blender.

Put all the above ingredients into your blender, or bullet.

Then your going to pour your morel Dijon reduction into the blender and let it rip until its nice and thick and creamy like peanut butter.

olive oil and salt the chops with tender care

Get your bbq rolling to around 375-400 degrees, or nice and hot.  Olive oil and sea salt the chops. Toss them on your que and let them go with the top down for about 4-5 minutes or until nice and brown.  Once you have good color flip them and add your mixture to the top and shut bbq again and let them cook for 4-5 minutes.

Lather the chop once turning it

This is what it looks like after coming out of the bbq and ready for plating.  Try making them then tell me what you think.  They are a good appetizer, or a meal.  If you do not like lamb, try it anyways.  I have turned a lot of previous bad opinions about lamb with this dish.

Morel Rosemary Dijon Lamb Chops ready for the belly y'all

And that there folks is how you do it.  For all my gangster hunting chefs out there, I am throwing you a little whoop whoop.

 

Hunting Chef

 

The Quest for the Morel Mushroom

I get asked quite frequently what my obsession with Morel Mushrooms in the Spring.  People often scratch their heads in their futile attempt to understand why I pursuit them, or why I even eat them.  Until I make them one on a cast iron skillet, then they fully understand.  I have made people who hate mushrooms, like the taste of a fresh morel.  At  $49.99 a pound, I would speculate that 99 percent of the population has never even tried one.  They are very expensive because they only grow one time a year and some would say very difficult to find in the wilderness.  They are to some degree, but after years in the woods I find it to be relatively easy.  I have a few friends, that go with me.  Actually I only have two, my wife who I force to go because she loves eating them and my one of my long time friends who I grew up with, Trevor Storlie.  I am not sure if Trevor has the obsession as I do, but he definitely finds competition and the two of us have made it a sport over the years.  We even have a Morel ring that King gets to wear if he out picks thy other.  Then thy other has to get to his knee and kiss thy ring.  I guess it is sort of corny, but having your buddy get to his knee to kiss “precious” we find some humor too.  Trevor and I always find the shrooms and he is fishing guide so it searching a species out is sort of like honing your skills and eyes for what you are borned to do.

Trevor Storlie...a mushrom hunting son of a bitch

I apologize for the blur of this photo.  It was taken by cell phone and without permission.  Trevor rarely likes to be photographed in the wild, mainly because his wife thinks he has clients fishing…but he has scallywag himself off into the woods with me.  In his hand is what is called blonde morels.  Please look below at mine, which is surely larger than Trevor’s.

Notice my mushroom is larger than Trevor's

Morel's in the forest

Here are some up in Trout Lake, Washington in April.  These are brown morels that are some of the first to come up this year.  Notice how they camouflage themselves and usually come up in the color of their surroundings.  Not much is known on what causes them to grow, what we do know is what they like above 52 degree ground temperatures, white pines, and fires or logging areas that are a year old.

These are the first two Morel's Stephanie ever laid eyes on.

I took my wife, Stephanie up hunting mushrooms in Mitchell, Oregon.  She was only my girlfriend back then so I could talk her into everything because she was trying to impress me.  When she was following me around in the woods wondering what all the hoopla was about.  She was not all that impressed but like I said she was trying to win me over so she followed me around like a little puppy.  These were the first ones she ever saw in the wild.  That night I whipped about 20 up for dinner and after her first bite she said “We have to go out and get a lot more of these for rizzle”.  That was about 6 years ago, and I still take her on the weekends to camp and look for mushrooms.  Though she doesnt try to impress me anymore she still loves eating them.

A giant

This one was taken with about 28 others right by Trevor’s house.  He still does not believe that I picked them there because we always have to drive about an hour or more.

The Lucky Bucket

There is a lot to learn about hunting morel’s.  First, you need some rain, then some sun and about 70 degree weather to start the shrooms popping. You need the right elevation, to high can be too cold.  Remember the ground temperature is very important, to low they will not grow.  Too high and they have already came and gone.  The ground also needs rain so if it doesn’t rain for two weeks and the temps are right, no water to get them to pop.  So you have to pay attention to mother nature.  You also need a lucky bucket, I stole this one from Trevor, who stole it from his wife.  Notice above it is full of Mushrooms, hence the lucky.  Most of all is that you need have patience and endurance.  Most people quit before they learn, they have been told all this stuff but do not find any mushrooms.  Some times it takes time, then you whack them!

How many do you see?

Then you must have trained eyes.  What makes Trevor and I so successful is that we both have excellent eyesight.  We can spot them from 20 feet away.  What I have learned over the years is not to look straight down, look out about 10 feet because you are able to spot them easier.  I think the few times we went this year, we were able to both about 5 pounds apiece without trying that hard.  The last time we competed with each other I am sure we each had over 150 apiece.  It seemed every where we tried we found a pile of them.

After you pick them, you need to soak them in salt water

When you do find them, take out your scissors or knife and cut them, never pull them out of the ground!!  Make sure air gets to the morels too, never seal them in a bag.  I wash them down, to get the dirt off them, then soak them with salt in the water.  I usually put in a couple of tablespoons of salt for an hour, then drain, the resoak adding salt. This gets all the bugs out of them.

Dry the morels out on a dry towel and let air dry

After washing them, its important to let them air dry for an hour or so.  After that, you can put them in the fridge on wet towel, but do not cover them.  I usually put the towel on a cookie tray for easy transport.  You can do this for 3-4 days.  After that, you are running a risk of losing them and need dehydrate them.  This is a safe and easy method.  It takes about 10 hours, but produces a great end product that you can keep dried in a tight mason jar.  I have also froze them and that works but gives the rehydrated morel a poor texture.  I try to eat as many as I can while fresh, there is nothing like a fresh morel.

Madelyn even loves Morel hunting and dad's can of ice cold beer on her teeth

I am telling you folks, if you need an excuse to get out into the wilderness to harvest your own food, this one is it.  Think of it like easter egg hunting, but instead you’re getting expensive mushrooms.  It does take time to educate yourself, but in my humble opinion, walking around in the forest with the animals, fresh air, and beautiful surroundings definitely beats sitting at home on the couch.

Here is what they look like dried up and in a mason jar.  This is over 500 bucks worth.

Dried and ready for action

This is how we roll...The Morel Express

Actually that was the Clam Express because the photo was taken on a clamming trip.  I will blog about that later, but you get the point. After years of sleeping in a tent and having a bad back, Steph and I bought a trailer….and WE LOVE IT.

I was not going to get into any recipes just yet.  I first had to explain the art of finding them.  I will leave you folks with a little taste of this….blue cheese pesto stuffed morels and bone in pork chops on a cast iron grill.

Stuffed Morel's and Pork Chops on the Cast Iron