Sunday, May 14, 2017

Chores And Rewards

     Tam took a photo but she hasn't shared it yet: steak and morels was yesterday's award for getting yard work (mostly) done.  I took a weed-eater to the back yard, made a stab at stretching out the tarp (it spent about a year folded over the raised flower bed out front, Phase One of trying to kill off the weeds that infested that bed after the tree that it was built around had to be removed) and picked up downed limbs.

     The grill had been left uncovered during a recent morning downpour.  It has a lid but I usually keep a big, thick-plastic trash bag over it -- unless it's cooling down after use, which usually takes all night.  I dashed out and covered it during a lull in the rain last week, some hours after the storm began, and I wasn't sure what I was going to find when I swung back the lid--

     Dry. Lots of charcoal.  When I'm done cooking, I just close lid and close up the vents; the burning charcoal uses up whatever air is left and stops, and unlike the cheap stuff, hardwood charcoal is just as good when restarted.  Tam was making a store run, having earlier stopped by the organic/local place and all but met the morel truck, so I asked her to pick up some steaks.

     Let me tell you, they're as good over hardwood charcoal as ever.  The hardwood kindling makes starting it easy: build a three-level ziggurat of half-length sticks with a crumpled sheet of newspaper in the middle, surround with charcoal, apply a lit match and let it burn!  I did so, then went inside to prep the steaks and mushrooms.

     The steaks were easy: a little fresh-ground mixed pepper and some chipotle sea salt, shake (the grocer puts 'em in plastic bags these days, with the traditional paper around that) and leave.  Tam's gets a third of the cooking time of mine, rare vs. medium-well.  The morels?  That's a story. 

     The wild mushrooms were fresh.  Really fresh.  Really fresh: there'd been no exodus of woodland dwellers. I gently shook the morels in a bag, fished them out and trimmed the stems, then set them in cool, salty water for five minutes.  They had passengers!  Bugs and plenty of them.  I alternated soaks and rinsing with setting up the fire and getting the steaks started, and it took four more soaks before I stopped getting insects.  By then the steaks were done; I parked them on the outer edges of the grill, got the morels started (roll them in a little flour and fry in a bit of hot oil, shortening or bacon fat -- you can add some butter but the temperature and time is a bit much for butter alone), and fetched the steaks in to rest on warmed plates in the oven.

     By the time the mushrooms were done, the steaks were plenty happy, melt-in-your mouth tender and suffused with flavor.  They needed nothing in the way of seasoning.  Some fresh vegetables completed a fine meal, enjoyed just as the sun set.

1 comment:

George said...

Mushroom hunting was an annual activity in my Missouri youth. My mother was the family champion in finding them.

She prepared them by dredging in a milk and egg mix, then rolling into cracker crumbs and frying. Whee doggies that's good! She made me some this spring when I visited, they were given to her by a high school friend of mine who still lives in the area.

Morels always remind me of home, in a very good way.