Morchella, the true morels, is a genus of edible mushrooms closely related to anatomically simpler cup fungi. These distinctive mushrooms appear honeycomb-like in that the upper portion is composed of a network of ridges with pits between them.
These ascocarps are prized by gourmet cooks, particularly for French cuisine. Commercial value aside, morels are hunted by thousands of people every year simply for their taste and the joy of the hunt. The American state of Minnesota has adopted the morel as its state mushroom.
Morels have been called by many local names; some of the more colorful include dryland fish, because when sliced lengthwise then breaded and fried, their outline resembles the shape of a fish; hickory chickens, as they are known in many parts of Kentucky; and merkels or miracles, based on a story of how a mountain family was saved from starvation by eating morels. In parts of West Virginia, they are known as "molly moochers." Other common names for morels include sponge mushroom. Genus Morchella is derived from morchel, an old German word for mushroom, while morel itself is derived from the Latin maurus meaning brown.
The mushrooms add moisture and extend the meat in this loaf so it is lower in fat. You can substitute ground chicken for turkey if desired. For convenience make the topping up to two days ahead and refrigerate; reheat in microwave. Use a mixed variety of Ontario Mushrooms for an interesting version.
Preparation Time: 20 Minutes
Cooking Time: 45 to 60 Minutes
- 1 lb (500 g) Ontario Mushrooms, sliced
- 1 lb (500 g) ground turkey or chicken
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped Ontario Onion
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) dry bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp (25 mL) soy sauce or teriyaki sauce
- 2 tsp (10 mL) grated fresh gingerroot
- 4 cloves Ontario Garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil
- 1 large Ontario Onion, sliced
Finely chop enough mushrooms to yield 1-1/4 cups (300 mL); set remaining mushrooms aside.
In large bowl, gently combine chopped mushrooms, turkey, chopped onion, bread crumbs, egg, 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the soy sauce, ginger and half of the garlic. Lightly pack into 8 1/2 - x 4 1/2 -inch (1.5 L) loaf pan. Bake in 350 F (180 C) oven for 45 to 60 minutes or until juices are clear. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil over medium heat; cook sliced onion, stirring often, for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add remaining oil and reserved mushrooms; cook, stirring for about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining soy sauce and garlic; cook for 30 to 45 seconds. Serve over meat loaf slices.