Each year, after a two or three day warm spell and a rain, they appear!
These beauties grow under a poplar tree close to my house. Over the years, I have learned that the amount of leaf matter, in addition to weather, affect the harvest. This was a bountiful year for my morels. I am at about 2600 ft elevation. The morels grow in the moist leaves left on the ground from the previous year. I notice that they will come up about the same time as my peonies and rudbeckia. The leaf matter consists of the poplar, oak and sycamore. The area is moist but does receive dappled sunlight. They will generally come up for about a week or less.
They are great in the following recipe:
Chicken Marsala (Serves 4 to 6)
1¼ lb. chicken cutlets, pounded until ¼" thick (about 8)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
⅓ cup plus 1 tbsp. flour
5 tbsp. olive oil
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
8 oz. morels
2 tbsp. minced shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
⅓ cup dry Marsala wine
⅓ cup chicken stock
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)
1. Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in ⅓ cup flour. Heat 2 tbsp. oil and 1 tbsp. butter in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add chicken, and cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate, and set aside. Add 2 tbsp. oil and 1 tbsp. butter, and then add mushrooms; cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plate with chicken, and set aside.
2. Heat remaining oil in skillet, and then add shallots and garlic; cook, stirring, until soft, about 1 minute. Stir in remaining 1 tbsp. flour; cook for 2 minutes. Add Marsala and stock; cook, stirring and scraping bottom of pan until slightly thick, about 2 minutes. Return chicken and mushrooms to skillet, and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in remaining butter. Season with salt and pepper; garnish with parsley, if you like.