RECIPES: Recipe Details

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Fruits of the Fire: Montana Morel Burgers

Many Montanans eagerly anticipate the end of winter. As the snow melts and the ground thaws, they access maps of fires from the previous summer. There are hushed discussions regarding hill slope and aspect, access, and regulations. One goal exists, to find the elusive Morel Mushroom.

Following a good spring rain, the hills of recent burns are swarmed with people looking for the treasured wild delicacy. If lucky, a mushroom gatherer can collect five gallons or more of mushrooms each day. Good collecting grounds are closely guarded secrets. There is a brief period when Morels can be purchased fresh, but they are often dried and used for cooking during the following year.

This recipe combines these delicious fungi (that I collected) with regional, organic beef, and a bun from a local bakery. Please enjoy the Fruits of the Fire.

Ingredients 

--- Patties ---
1 ounce Dried Morel Mushrooms *
1 cup Warm Water
1/4 cup White Wine (Sutter Homes Chardonnay)
1 tablespoon Olive Oil (Colavita Extra Virgin)
2 pounds Freshly Ground Beef Chuck Roast (Lifeline Farms Organic)
1/3 cup Diced Shallots (approximately 2 good size shallots)
2 teaspoons Salt (Fleur de Sel is preferable)
1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper

--- Morel Sauce ---
2 ounces Dried Morel Mushrooms *
2 cups Warm Water
1/2 cup White Wine (Sutter Homes Chardonnay)
1/4 cup Olive Oil (Colavita Extra Virgin)
1 tablespoons Pressed Garlic (approximately 3 cloves)
1/2 cup Diced Shallots (approximately 3 good size shallots)
1/4 cup Fresh Thyme Leaves (loosely packed)
2 teaspoons Salt (Fleur de Sel is preferable)
1 teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
2 tablespoons Olive Oil (Colavita Extra Virgin)
1/2 cup Tomato Paste (Muir Glen Organic)
1 cup Heavy Cream (Organic Valley)

--- Other ---
Vegetable Oil to brush on grill

--- Bun ---
6 Sourdough Deli Rolls from Le Petit Outre (purchased at the Good Food Store in Missoula, MT) Note: This roll has a mild sourdough flavor and a crust that is not too firm.

--- Garnish ---
1 bunch Chopped Italian Parsley Leaves

Instructions 

--- To make the patties ---
1. Preheat grill to high heat.
2. Combine the mushrooms, water, and wine in a bowl to allow the mushrooms to rehydrate. Soak for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid and chop. Discard liquid.
3. Place a large, nonstick fireproof skillet on the fire over high heat. Saute the mushrooms in the oil. Cook the morels thoroughly. Cool.
4. Combine the mushrooms, ground chuck, shallots, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Handle as little as possible to avoid compacting. Form into six burger patties that are slightly larger than the buns. Cover and refrigerate until the sauce is prepared.

--- To make the morel sauce ---
1. Lower grill temperature to medium-high heat.
2. Combine the mushrooms, water, and wine in a bowl to allow the mushrooms to rehydrate. Soak for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Note: this step can easily be completed at the same time as the other mushrooms.) Remove the mushrooms from the liquid and coarsely chop. Discard liquid.
3. Place a large, nonstick fireproof skillet on the fire over medium-high heat. (Feel free to use the same one as before.) Saute the mushrooms in the oil with the garlic, shallots, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook thoroughly. Reduce heat to low.
4. Add additional oil, tomato paste, and cream to the skillet. Stir until all ingredients are mixed. Cover with lid and keep warm until ready to serve

--- To cook the burgers ---
1. Brush the grill with vegetable oil. Heat the barbecue to 425 degrees. Cook burgers with the lid lowered for 5 minutes on each side.
2. During the last two minutes of cooking, toast the cut sides of each bun.
3. Place one patty on each bun bottom. Add a generous amount of the morel sauce. Top with parsley and second half of bun.

Comments 

* May substitute other mushrooms, including fresh mushrooms. If fresh mushrooms are used, the need for water and white wine in the recipe is eliminated.