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August 2018
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Crappies w/ Moral Mushrooms in Butter Garlic Sauce

Sunday’s lunch was a real treat for me, not only was it really tasty but it was all caught and gathered, as in foraged for, by myself the day before!  Nothing can be fresher than that!

The goal was to go morel mushroom hunting with my cousin John on Saturday but he had too much going on so he was going to give me some that he got a few days ago, he had more then he could use.  Since he lives on a lake I thought I would grab my fishing stuff and drop in a line since I was going over there already.  I have been fishing this spot since I was a little boy.  Despite the cloudy, being a bit wet and the windier conditions I quickly caught my limit of black crappies, at first I was not going to keep any but they were all so nice in size and I haven’t had fresh caught fish in a while so I thought what the hell I will keep them.

In the wild

In the wild

The wind picked up off the lake and started to have a bite to it, my limit was caught so I packed up, grabbed the morals that were promised.  This is when John told me of a few places to check if I still wanted to go looking for the morels.  I sure did so I trucked off to the secrete wooded place that he had some luck a few days prior.

The woods where wet from the rain from the night before, had an earthy and slight organic rotting wood smell that wood often have when wet.  Birds of every type sang loudly, greeting me in a way which gave the woods an eerie life that juxtaposed to the rotting wood smell.  I walked back to the slue where a few dead elms were located keeping my eyes peeled for my pray.  Dead elms are a good place to find these tasty treats.  After twenty minutes of zig-zaging through the woods with no luck I whispered a little prayer to my dad.  Some of my fondest memories with my dad were going fishing and morel mushroom hunting with him, I had been thinking about him all day because of this.  After another 5 minutes or so getting skunked on the mushroom front I started contemplating giving up, that is when I spied the first one!  It was big and tall but obscured by ground clutter, this made me feel giddy!  In a few steps I spotted a second one, I turned around to get back to the deer trail I had been following and under some more leaves was a cluster of 3.  All in all I got about 20 or so more, not all in the best shape as the season is winding down but all good enough for the taking.  I kind of felt like Katniss from the Hunger Games, I gathered and “hunted” enough food for a good meal, on the upside I didn’t have to worry about getting killed!

Enough of the story now on to the food!


Morel Mushrooms in a Butter garlic Sauce:

You can do a lot with Morels but I like to keep them simple to really get the rich, creamy deliciously nutty and earthy flavor they are known for.  This recipe is simple and quicker than my story above!

all cut up and ready to go

  • 1 cup morel mushrooms
  • 1 Tbls. butter
  • 1 clove garlic minced

Over medium low to medium heat melt the butter (do not scald or brown though) add garlic and cook for a few minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook until mushrooms are browned on the outside, 5 or so minutes.  If you had the mushrooms soaking make sure you pat dry them the best you can before you cook them.

sauteed in butter

Pan Fried Black Crappies (or Other Pan Fish):

This is also really simple and easy to make.  Works well with pan fish or other lake fish, feel free to filet them but I don’t because I am not really good at it and I am lazy I just clean the scales off, remove the head and guts and soak them in cold salted water until ready to use.  After frying them you can pull the top and bottom fin out easy and then just scrape the meat right off the bones with a fork.  They will keep in the fridge for several day or the freezer for 3-6 months.  This recipe can easily be multiplied for the amount of fish you have.

  • 10 Crappies or other pan/lake fish
  • 2 cups all purpose flour divided
  • 2 eggs for dredging
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon zest minced
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste (1/2 tsp. or so)
  • Canola oil enough to be ¼”deep in the frying pan

If the fish were soaking, pat dry with paper towels. Set up a dredging station consisting of one cup of unseasoned flour, one of eggs lightly beaten and on of flour mixed with spices and zest.

all cleaned

Prepare frying pan with oil and bring up to 350-360 degrees, if you don’t have a fry thermometer you can tell it is up to temp when a drop of water dances on the hot oil but doesn’t go berserk (that is an official cooking term!)

Next part you will have to work in batches, coat fish with unseasoned flour first, shake off excess flour, coat with egg and let extra drip off, then coat with seasoned flour, again shaking off excess then throw in the hot frying pan.  Cook until golden brown and flip, 2-3 minutes per side, remove and place on a plate lined with paper towels, I tent with aluminum foil while frying the rest to keep them warm.  Repeat until done, add more oil as needed.

in the frying pan

Cook’s notes: You can sub the seasoned flour for saltine crackers or Ritz crackers that have been crushed into powder.  You can also eat the tail too, it gets all crunchy and crispy after it is fried!

This time I used organic local eggs and I had two with double yokes!

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