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magnificent morels

There was a time when morels came dried and skanky of dubious quality and from Europe and the chances of getting them fresh was very remote and at the best very expensive. Marco Martinelli and his cutie pie wife Bec, Mr and Mrs Mushroom Man Mushroom House, at the Adelaide Central Markets have invested more than most in educating chefs and home cooks about mushrooms. They have supported the Australian truffle industry since its inception and imported mushrooms and truffles when others were too scared to take the risk. Add to that they have invested serious time and money in education whilst at the same time selling the best value locally grown mushrooms you can find in Adelaide. It is a well–known fact that South Australia has the very best cultivated mushrooms in Australia. The more common varieties of mushrooms are healthy and inexpensive making them accessible to everyone.

Marco loves to tease chefs with “Come here I’ve got something to show you! ” This week fantastic morels and ever wary of being seduced by an ingredients with a lot of miles, the obvious question was where are they from because, yes we are all counting the miles. “ictoria” fab there is no guilt involved in that. The quality was outstanding, in fact unbelievably good! Fresh morels are like art, a trace of craters and textures that might have been painted with a patient hand seduced with detail, but of course they have not been painted, they are a miracle of nature, nature’s work of art! Slice them open they could be from an ocean they are coral like without the vibrant colour. When you cook them the addition of other elements, butter salt and pepper and they are a miracle of texture, an explosion of flavour so refined, yet so persistent that they have a finish as long and lasting as the greatest wine. Like a great wine when cold the initial nose is tight, withheld, but 20 minutes in a warm environment and the morel begins to release it’s secret aroma, seductive and beguiling, that wafts between a damp lush forest floor and a mystifying scent that is all its own. When cooked in a blast of butter, embellished with a good stock and finished with some very delicious white balsamic like the Leonardi Oro Nobile they become mysterious and miraculous.

So now you’re hooked with the idea of cooking a morel for yourself. Compared to a truffle morels are cheap, but their rarity in the wild state still demands a high price and large ones cost about $8 each, but it is important to remember that like a truffle they can be extended. Our dish, simple enough some farmed rabbit saddles that had been marinated in good EV olive oil and whole grain Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Very quickly seared and rested in a 100°C oven for 2–3 minutes and served with a sublime, but simple sauce of sautéed oyster mushrooms, wild–picked St Georges, also from Victoria and morels to which we added a little reduced stock and butter, salt and pepper and a few drops of white balsamic to provide acidity without sharpness. Stunning rich and intense flavours yet simple and from start to finish 10 minutes – yes more 10 minute Magic! Would anyone who knew nothing about cooking even guess, we suspect not! Simpler than the rabbit some gorgeous slices of milk–fed veal, lightly floured and quickly panned, another bit of 10–minute Magic! Oyster mushrooms were once very expensive and are less so now. Torn and fried they add a miraculous silken element to any mushroom dish, soup or sauce. They need to be well cooked before eating and to get the best result they are best mixed with King Mushrooms as a contrasting texture. The King mushrooms remains firm and tight even after prolonged cooking and are much more texture than taste. We love them in Chinese hot pots where different textures are an important part of the total dish. Try adding them to chicken stock enhanced with some garlic ginger, chilli if you like, black vinegar and soy and just before serving stir through some shaved chicken thigh and chopped spring onion and adjust the seasoning just before serving. A heavenly simple and very inexpensive dish!

the people behind Galaxy Guidesfood editor and publisher
Ann Oliver

champagne editor
Kaaren Palmer


Jan Bowman
Political comentator, briliant photographer…farmers’s market obsessed…Brisbane based.

Olivia Stratton Makris
Masters of Gastronomy, NYC, Spain and constant assistance and editorial suggestion…Adelaide based.

Michael Martin…Northern America 2016.Photographic assistance Kym Martin…Adelaide based.

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copyright © text, recipes and images Ann Oliver & Kaaren Palmer 2016.